on aggregate 5-2)
Nearly four thousand supporters turned out to cheer the young Sky Blues to the
clubs first major cup final for twelve years.
They were disappointed by the sides below-par performance, but nevertheless sent
them to the changing rooms with a standing ovation.
Now the youngsters have ten days to prepare for the two leg final against West Ham
United who beat Everton with a 3-1 aggregate score in the other semi-final.
The first leg of the final will be at Highfield Road on Friday, May 7th
(kick-off 8.05 pm) and the second leg will follow at Upton Park seven days later.
Soccer Academy Director Richard Money acknowledged that the under-18s did not play to
their usual standard but said:
"I have seen this happen so many times with young players. They went into the
match with a 4-0 lead and in many ways it makes them afraid of what might happen."
There might also have been an element of edginess caused by playing in front of so many
people on their own ground at Highfield Road. Certainly the star men such as sharpshooter
Gary McSheffrey, winger Steve McPhee and midfielder Craig Pead were lacklustre on a night
when they had hoped to shine.
McSheffrey scored a hat-trick in the first leg at St James Park and the other goal was
added by Craig Strachan.
Strachan was on the bench for the second leg and while McSheffrey almost caught the
Newcastle goalkeeper napping with a forty yarder that landed on the roof of the net, he
had no real scoring chances.
Newcastle, with pride at stake, were fired up for the second leg and had the best of
starts with a seventh minute goal. Their striker David McMahon was unmarked when he
steered home Brian Kerrs cross from close range.
When James Coppinger made it 2-0 after a defensive mix-up in the 52nd
minute, the nervous home supporters began to fear the worst. But with fifteen minutes left
to play Pead struck a long ball upfield and Chukki Eribenne, despite two strong
challenges, managed to poke it over the line.
Chris Kirkland, Gerard Mooney, Daniel Hall, Robert Betts, Thomas Cudworth, Mark Burrows,
Stephen McPhee, Craig Pead, Chukki Eribenne, Gary McSheffrey (Daire Doyle 82), Nathan
Thompson (Matthew Lewis 72). Subs not used: Callum Davenport, Adam Mehmet, Craig
Martin, Cunningham, Macklin, Harris, S.Caldwell, G.Caldwell, Kerr, Green (Hogg 85),
McMahon (Knight 54), Coppinger, Walker (Ameobi 85). Subs not used: Grindley, Charlton.
Referee: M.R. Halsey.