Newcastle United were in Checkatrade Trophy action on Tuesday night.
Whilst clubs in the lower divisions with already 46 league matches to play, might understandably see this competition as an unnecessary extra burden, for those such as Newcastle with Under 21s competing, it is a no-brainer.
A chance for the kids to play against League One and League Two opposition.
League Two clubs Grimsby and Notts County are also in Newcastle’s group but on Tuesday night it was Doncaster Rovers.
Doncaster are currently seventh in League One, three places behind Sunderland, and drew 1-1 away at league leaders Peterborough on Saturday.
Seven of that Doncaster starting eleven lined up against the Newcastle Under 21s but proved second best.
Sean Longstaff set up Thomas Allan on 14 minutes, the striker putting the visitors into the lead.
Doncaster then levelled things in added time at the end of the first half, only for Sean Longstaff to once again be the key man in putting Newcastle’s youngsters back in front.
His run set up Wilson to cross for Callum Roberts and he coolly finished to make it 2-1 with 25 minutes left on the clock.
Any nerves were dispelled with a few minutes to go, Sean’s brother Matty Longstaff the provider this time, setting up Danish striker Elias Sorensen to confirm the win.
A very good away victory by Newcastle’s young players, enjoyed by 115 travelling Newcastle fans in the 1,544 crowd.
Sean Longstaff was the best player on the pitch and key to Newcastle’s victory, which then brings up the debate of wanting the lower levels to do well but at the same time needing to ensure that the best individuals get the maximum chance to progress.
As a 19 year old Longstaff excelled at League One level scoring eight goals on loan at Blackpool last season.
However, with such a weak squad, Rafa Benitez felt he had to keep him at Newcastle for the moment due to not being able to strengthen his squad properly in the summer.
With Newcastle heading straight out of the League Cup, it leaves Sean Longstaff with very few matches at a decent level, he stands next to no chance of getting a game in the Premier League and so these Checkatrade Trophy matches will be the best level he can play at, until potentially going out on loan in January. Whereas in reality, for his own personal development he surely needed to go out on loan to one of the better League One sides, or possibly a Championship one.
Doncaster Rovers 1 Newcastle United Under 21s 3
Newcastle United Under 21s:
Harker, Sterry, Gibson (Cass 79), Bailey, O’Connor, Watts, Allan (M. Longstaff 74), S. Longstaff, Sorensen, Cumbreras (Wilson 61), Roberts
Crowd: 1,544 (115 Newcastle)