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Rochdale AFC 5 Newcastle United Foundation 2

Terry Mitchell promised lessons will be learned across the board after Newcastle United Foundation A endured a first half to forget.

The Magpies’ latest clash in the North Premier Division of the National Football Youth League was over before the break.

But Mitchell praised his battling players for fighting back in the face of a 5-0 half-time deficit at the hands of a rampant Rochdale AFC A.

“There are lessons to be learned by me and the players,” he admitted. “I introduced a new system prior to the trip to Rochdale.

“And, on reflection, we clearly didn’t do enough work to get used to that system.

“But football matches aren’t lost as a result of systems. The players also need to take some responsibility and realise they need to play a tighter, more compact game against a team of Rochdale’s quality.

“What I like about this group is that they always respond in the right way.

“We were 5-0 down at the break and it could have been an experience nobody would forget in a hurry.

“But they listened to what I said at half-time, regrouped and won the second half 2-0. Had we started the game the way we finished it then it could have been a different story.”

Mitchell could barely believe his eyes as the visitors allowed Rochdale to run the game for the first 45 minutes.

And he added: “It was the ultimate game of two halves.

“I have no idea why we played so poorly before the break but for whatever reason we just weren’t at the races.

“We looked like a different team in the second half. And credit to the lads for trying to turn things around with an instant response after half-time.”

Substitute Kyle Elsdon scored within two minutes of the restart to reduce the deficit.

And although United dominated the second period it wasn’t until Dan Marriott’s 90th-minute strike that the visitors were rewarded for a gutsy comeback.

“We had another great chance but the referee awarded a free kick on the edge of the box when it looked like a clear penalty,” added Mitchell.

“Who knows what might have happened had we been awarded that spot kick but, in all honesty, we didn’t create a huge number of chances.

“I was just pleased with my players’ attitude after what was a first half to forget.”

Goals from Rhys Mcleod and Nelson Ogbewe secured a point for Newcastle United Foundation B in their North Championship clash against Bradford City FC A.

The National Football Youth League returns in the New Year with a full round of fixtures in mid-January.

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