Super six for Newcastle Town Under-18s as they continue Sentinel Cup dominance

The Sentinel Cup final followed a familiar script… and not just because Newcastle Town lifted the silverware once more.

Castle Under-18s, who have now won the competition an unprecedented six successive times, had beaten Abbey Hulton United 3-1 in the last final in 2019.

It was the same score on Tuesday night between the teams at Stoke’s bet365 Stadium and, as in 2019, Castle were forced to recover from a 1-0 half-time deficit before eventually sealing the win with a 90th-minute goal.

Abbey Hulton edged proceedings in the first half and took the lead in injury-time thanks to Joe Miles’ finish.

But it took Castle just four minutes of the second period to level as former Shrewsbury Town midfielder Will Lloyd equalised.

Tom Evans’ edge-of-the-box goal nosed Newcastle in front moments later, but it needed a last-gasp effort from Lloyd to make sure the trophy was safely heading to Lyme Valley once again.

Newcastle Town manager Gavin Appleby said: “Abbey Hulton had the edge in the first half, but there were a lot of nerves out there.

“We said to the boys at half-time that’s the worst it can get in terms of being nervous, so we’ve got to go out there, start passing the ball and show what you’re good at.

“Plenty of times this season we’ve spoken as a group about being resilient, never giving up and believing in yourself.

Newcastle Town midfielder Will Lloyd heads off to celebrate his first goal of the night.

“At 1-0 down in a final, it can go one of two ways, but I take my hat off to the players, it was like watching a different side in the second half.”

Appleby admits that Lloyd being quick off the mark to level matters was key to them keeping hold of the trophy.

He says the leveller helped to restore belief in his side that they could go on and win the match.

“As we came down the tunnel for the second half, I said to the management team that whoever gets the next goal will win it,” added Appleby.

“We had been considering attacking changes at half-time, but we knew the longer it stayed at 1-0 we’d have to put more forward-thinking players on.

“So Will scoring so soon after half-time really helped with the confidence. I’m sure Abbey would have been thinking about keeping it quiet for 10 or 15 minutes of the second half and then hitting us on the break.”

Joe Miles put Abbey Hulton ahead in the closing stages of the first half.
Joe Miles put Abbey Hulton ahead in the closing stages of the first half.

Appleby says there were several eye-catching performances from his players on the night.

But he reserved special praise for Lloyd, who has also caught the attention of Newcastle Town first-team manager Robin Van der Laan.

“It wasn’t just the two goals Will scored, his all-round play was outstanding,” said the Castle boss.

“There were four or five outstanding performances in the second half, and to be fair there wasn’t a bad display from us.

“But Will will make the headlines and he ran the midfield – he looked like a top-class player.

“He’s been around the first team and in 12 months’ time he could be part of the first-team squad.”

Rather ominously for Castle’s rivals, the majority of their side are eligible to play at this level for another year.

Newcastle Town keeper Elliott Cooper saves a shot from Fitzroy Butler.
Newcastle Town keeper Elliott Cooper saves a shot from Fitzroy Butler.

But Appleby preferred to bask in the success of another final victory, rather than look too far ahead.

“You can never dream something like this will happen, winning a competition six times in a row.

“For us it’s a case of enjoying the victory and not thinking about next year.

“It was a great occasion and huge credit must go to the Sentinel Football committee for getting the competition on.

“And Stoke City were absolutely class. They staffed it like it was a Championship match.”

There was disappointment in the Abbey Hulton United camp, but manager Duncan Harrison was magnanimous in defeat.

Newcastle Town captain Callum Lowe with the Sentinel Cup.
Newcastle Town captain Callum Lowe with the Sentinel Cup.

He has links with Castle, having previously coached at the club, while his son, Matt, has just signed terms with the Northern Premier League side.

“We lost a couple through suspension and Dave Pereira was injured in the warm up, which didn’t help,” said Harrison.

“In the first half we were the better side, but in the end Newcastle deserved their win.

“I think if we had not conceded so early in the second half it could have been different. If we’d stayed ahead until the 60 or 65-minute mark then they might have panicked.

“But I’ve known Gavin (Appleby) for years and know the hard work and time he puts into Newcastle Town.

“Any success Gavin has, I’m pleased for him because he deserves it.”


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