JOEY Barton played 80 minutes on his return to action after suspension as Newcastle Reserves enjoyed a comfortable victory in the Tees-Tyne derby at Billingham.
Barton, who has not featured since a brief substitute outing at Arsenal in August, formed part of a strong second string side which also included Tim Krul, David Edgar and Andy Carroll.
And it was the visitors who seized the lead after just four minutes when James Marwood found Jason Steele’s bottom corner with a sweet, low strike from outside the area.
At the other end, Dutch forward Marvin Emnes was thwarted by compatriot Krul with the United stopper somehow spreading his body to block from point-blank range.
Ben Tozer came to the Magpies’ rescue on the half-hour mark as he hooked Nathan Porritt’s cross-cum-shot around the upright from inside the six-yard box. Fit-again Hungarian full-back Tamas Kadar then showed great anticipation to steal on the left before finding Carroll with a pinpoint centre, the Geordie striker opting for the spectacular with Steele saving low at the foot of his post.
But the 6ft 4in frontman wasn’t to be denied and got his goal with a bullet header on the hour mark after Jonny Godsmark had dug out an expert delivery from the right flank.
Boro found an instant reply and Richard Smallwood (62) lifted over Krul from close range after he was slipped in by Emnes.
Godsmark was a thorn in the hosts’ side throughout the second period and helped restore the two-goal advantage when John Johnson (67) turned into his own net from the winger’s teasing cross.
Nile Ranger, having netted a hat-trick for United’s Juniors at the weekend, got his third goal for the club at this level when Godsmark cut through the Boro backline before rolling into the path of his team-mate to slot home on 77 minutes.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Steele, Bates (Corker, 46m), Bennett, Walker, Hines, Johnson, Franks, Smallwood, Emnes, Saiko, Porritt.
NEWCASTLE: Krul, Edgar, Kadar (Lough, 64m), Tozer, Morris, Godsmark, Barton (Inman, 80m), Doninger, Marwood, Ranger, Carroll (Ferguson, 74m).