STOKE CITY'S Under-18s coach John Perkins bemoaned another late winner against his team as they slipped to a 3-2 defeat to Newcastle United at Clayton Wood Training Ground.
Callum Roberts’ 89th minute goal for the visitors snatched all three points, only moments after Jake Cook had spectacularly levelled to appear to earn what would have been a deserved share of the spoils for the young Potters.
Roberts had earlier fired Newcastle into the lead after just 35 seconds, while Derice Richards’ equaliser and Jamie Sterry’s goal had made for an entertaining first-half.
The last-gasp nature of the defeat mirrored the side’s most recent match against Sunderland, and Perkins admitted his growing frustration at their unfortunate habit.
“After being a very hard side to beat, we’ve suddenly become a team who concede silly late goals,” he said when he speaking exclusively to stokecityfc.com after the final whistle.
“It happened at Newcastle away, Sunderland away and now again here. We’ve got to try and learn a little bit because that’s schoolboy stuff, especially seeing as we got the goal back.
“I’m very disappointed because I thought second-half we more than deserved something out of the game.”
With skipper Ryan O’Reilly missing after picking up a back injury in the trip to Wearside, Joseph Hulme made his first league start of the campaign, while Jack Nardiello and Curtis Strong returned from their international adventures with Wales Under-19s and both started.
The morning dew on the pitch had barely been disturbed by the time the game got its first goal – the Magpies stunned City within the first minute as Roberts jinxed across the edge of the area and lashed home, left-footed, past Dale Eve.
It took some time for Stoke to settle down after the frantic beginning, and it was on 15 minutes when they first went close through Nardiello’s deflected shot that nearly caught out Ryan Crump.
They eventually got some rhythm into their play and levelled six minutes later when Eddy Lecygne’s corner was flicked on at the near post by Richards, with the ball nestling in the far corner.
With the game even on the scoreboard and in terms of play, the Potters had a chance to grab it by the scruff of the neck but it was Newcastle who re-established their lead 11 minutes before half-time.
Jonathyn Quinn launched a cross to the back post that was nodded back down into the area, and Sterney found himself in enough space that allowed him the time to pick his spot, and he made no mistake.
Clearly frustrated, City responded and had two openings through Richards and Ryan Shields, but neither were converted and Newcastle held the lead at the break.
Two minutes into the second-half, they almost extended that advantage when Steven Logan hustled his way through the backline but aimed his shot straight at grateful Eve.
Stoke started to maintain possession more efficiently and Richards had another opportunity on 57 minutes, but the angle proved too acute and Crump saved comfortably.
As they continued to push, Newcastle were tiring and Nardiello’s snap shot almost caught Crump off guard, although Ryan McKinnon’s header at the other end produced a fine reaction stop from Eve.
City’s pressure told with seven minutes left on the clock – Cook picked up the ball on the right-hand side, cut in on his left foot and produced a stunning shot that left the ‘keeper with no chance.
Reinvigorated by the setback, Newcastle sprung into action, and after Sterney’s diving header flew just over, they nicked the winner in the dying moments.
Substitute Greg Olley’s drive was beaten away by Eve, but the rebound fell to Roberts who steered the ball home and left the Potters youngsters with a sense of déjà vu as the game concluded.
Perkins added afterwards: “I’ve been involved in the academy league for ten or eleven years, and this is the best league that I’ve worked in.
“All sides are pretty equal – if you look at our defeats, they’re all by the odd goal. No-one’s taken us to the cleaners, so there’s nothing much in it.”
Stoke City: Eve; Cook, Coulson, Hulme, Strong; Lecygne; Shields (Makrillos 45), Monlouis (Pilkington 77); Scott; Nardiello, Richards (Ricketts-Hopkinson 81).
Newcastle United: Crump; Booth, McKinnon, Kitchen, Cameron; Sterry, Logan, Smith, Barlaser (Olley 78); Quinn, Roberts.