NEWCASTLE United Reserves sit proudly at the top of Premier League Section A after a solid home win over Bolton Wanderers.
The game was played behind closed doors at the club’s Benton Training Centre and Danny Simpson took a step closer to his first-team comeback with 65 minutes under his belt.
Those locked out missed a keenly contested affair that did not lack quality – despite the game being played out with a Sunday morning pub-league feel, given the lack of spectators and players straggling on to the field in time for kick-off.
The recently revamped reserve set-up and step up for the Newcastle second string, who played in the Totesport.com League last term, has not resulted in any teething problems for Peter Beardsley’s side.
And even though the Magpies have played three games more than second-placed Manchester City, they hold a four-point cushion in Section A of the new structure.
In a scrappy opening to the game, played in wet and windy conditions, Newcastle had their moments in the opening phases.
However, they made the break through with 27 minutes on the clock when Northern Ireland international Shane Ferguson’s cross from the left eventually fell to Faroe Isles youngster Joan Edmundsson, who finished with an angled shot from poaching distance.
It was a first half to forget for Bolton, who had Ryan Stayte wheeled off with a suspected broken leg.
The second period resulted in a fight-back from Bolton and, after handing United keeper Ole Soderberg some testing moments, the Swede was fishing the ball out of his net on the hour mark.
Adam Blakeman rammed a free-kick at the Newcastle second choice goalie and, although he managed to get down and parry, Tom Eaves converted from close range.
Normal service was soon resumed though. Paddy McLaughlin played to ball out to the right for Simpson, who clipped in a fine cross from the right and Phil Airey rose high in the six-yard box to restore the lead for Newcastle.
Eaves then missed a couple of gilt-edged chances and was made to pay. Simpson retired early on 65 minutes, but with 16 minutes to go it his replacement Michael Richardson set up number three.
A fine pass down the right found Airey again and he rifled home his fifth goal of the campaign.
Samuel Ameobi replaced Airey and, with six minutes left, Vuckic threaded a ball to the sibling of first-team striker Shola, who slammed home the fourth.
NEWCASTLE: Ole Soderberg, Danny Simpson (Michael Richardson 65) Shane Ferguson, James Tavernier, Paul Dummett, Conor Newton, Patrick McLaughlin, Ryan Donaldson, Joan Edmundsson (Samuel Adjei 84), Haris Vuckic, Phil Airey (Sam Ameobi 80). Subs (not used): Jonathan Mitchell, Stevie Folan