Rafa Benitez was part of a small crowd watching Newcastle United’s Premier League Cup clash with Reading on Monday afternoon.
Hopes of a semi-final spot dashed after a poor display which saw United’s Under 23screate very few chances.
Jamie Holmes went close just before half-time but was denied by the visiting keeper, then in the closing stages Tom Hardman missed the target when well placed.
Reading were the better team but still only created a handful of chances which Nathan Harker was equal to in the home goal.
The Newcastle keeper though could do little about the winner, American striker Novakovich scoring a spot-kick with 18 minutes remaining, after Luke Charman fouled Reading’s Osho.
Reading fielded a very young side with three 17 year olds and only one player who wasn’t a teenager.
In contrast, Newcastle had a relatively experienced line-up with three who had first team experience, one of those, 24 year old Curtis Good, picking up yet another injury when forced off in the second half.
“The best team won – we can’t argue with that.
“They deserved to win and if I’m honest, possibly by another goal or two.
“We had one or two chances but they weren’t real chances.
“I wouldn’t say there was any period of the game where we were really in control of it.
“They played well and thoroughly deserved the win.”
Newcastle United Under 23s 0 Reading Under 23 1
Harker, Williams (El-Mhanni, 73), Good (Newberry, 49), Findlay, Gibson, Hunter, Barlaser, Holmes, Charman, Wilson (Fernandez, 88), Heardman