Everton (h) Premier Reserve League
24 mins McAleny lob 0-1
“The gut reaction is very, very disappointing, but here is always something to clutch at.
“If nothing else we have had a full assessment of the players we have and where they are at. We knew before they were very young, but I expected a better performance than that. On the day it was very disappointing, but there is lots of work to do and stuff to build on.
“I do not like making excuses. However, we have had 10 or 15 players playing before who are not playing now. Defenders like Tavernier, Henderson, Dummy and Steve Folan, that is a back four which have been missing.
“Then you have the first-teamers who have not been involved in the last two games like Dan Gosling and Alan Smith. It has been a depleted team, but it was still an opportunity for our young players to gain valuable experience.
“Sometimes it is just a hard learning
curve for them. That is how it seems at the moment.”
Regular reserve watchers were excluded from the visit of Everton to United's training ground, but those unable to gain admittance can count themselves fortunate on this occasion to have saved themselves the bother....
With old boy Duncan Ferguson spotted among the visitors' coaching staff, Everton fashioned the first opportunity of the game on ten minutes when Apostolos Vellios was denied from close range by United 'keeper Rob Elliot.
His opposite number, Adam Davies then blocked an effort from Sam Adjei five minutes later at the expense of a corner, but Newcastle were unable to threaten his goal either from that set piece or a handful of others.
Everton took the lead on 24 minutes when Conor McAleny expertly chipped Elliot from the corner of the area, with United's cap-less goalkeeper seemingly hampered by the low winter sun shining from directly behind the scorer.
The Toffees then doubled the lead in the 35th minute when Greek striker Vellios touched home Adam Forshaw's free-kick from close range at the far post.
Our best chance of the first half came in the final seconds but Haris Vuckic could only manage to fire weakly at Davies when well placed.
Sacrificing midfield debutant Ben Sayer at half time, United coach Willie Donachie introduced forward Adam Campbell from the bench and a re-jigged Magpies side looked to get a foothold in the game, with Davide Santon getting forward from left back to shoot at the 'keeper.
That revival though proved to be short lived and with the visitors dictating play and Newcastle's defence struggling to contain the pace and movement of their forwards, further goals against looked more than likely.
The third duly arrived in the 71st minute, after Elliot blocked a McAleny shot only for the ball to fall to Vellios who poked it into the unguarded goal. And six minutes later it was 0-4, when the ball was pulled back from the byline and Forshaw strolled forward to shoot past Elliot, who quickly denied Magaye Gueye from close range as the Toffees threatened to run riot.
The watching Alan Pardew and a clutch of lower league scouts won't have written much positive in their notebooks about the likes of Kadar or Vuckic, neither of whom enhanced their prospects of a recall or loan deal.
The only real positive to be taken for United was that Davide Santon got another game under his belt as he made a first start since the Carling Cup loss at Blackburn almost a month ago, having watched Italy's two recent U21 internationals from the substitutes bench.
This defeat - our worst on home soil in over five years - damaged our goal difference sufficiently for Manchester United to climb above us into top spot. And the Red Devils then moved three points clear after beating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 at Leyland on Thursday night. We meanwhile retained second spot on goal difference from the mackems, courtesy of their 1-5 howking at Liverpool.