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Report: Bristol City U23s 1-2 Newcastle United U23s

An experienced City Under-23 side fell to a 2-1 defeat against their Newcastle United counterparts in the PL2 Cup at Twerton Park this afternoon.

Trailing to two first-half goals, the hosts were rewarded for an improved second-half display with a late consolation strike from Diego De Girolamo.

Jamie McAllister’s young side was bolstered by the inclusion of seven players with first team experience, among them Marlon Pack, Josh Brownhill and Gustav Engvall.

But it was the visitors who carried the greater threat early on with some neat interplay in and around the City box.

It would take until the 17th minute for the first clear chance to arrive, as Ivan Lucic stood tall before stooping to deny Jamie Holmes, who had only the keeper to beat.

But City soon fell behind when Newcastle’s top scorer Sean Longstaff took aim from 25 yards with a well-placed shot to beat Lucic down to his right.

It was a goal that sparked the young Robins into life. Brownhill became increasingly influential, clipping one clever ball on to the head of Engvall, whose nod down had to be dealt with sharply by the visiting defence.

Then the midfielder’s corner was headed wide by Shawn McCoulsky, before a powerful run from deep produced a shot well blocked.

But for all City’s improvement, they would find themselves in twice as much trouble at the interval when Yasin Ben Elmahanni raced down the left flank and crossed low for Luke Charman to convert with a poacher’s finish.

McAllister made two of his substitutions within nine minutes of the restart, as left-back George Nurse hobbled off shortly before Engvall’s afternoon came to an end, with Jack Challis and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans the men introduced.

City would enjoy plenty of second-half possession but chances were at a premium.

Lemonheigh-Evans vacated the left touchline to try his luck from 20 yards, but his low daisy-cutter rolled harmlessly wide.

Brownhill continued to plug away, covering every blade of grass, while Pack dictated from deep, but McCoulsky never really had the opportunity to continue his rich vein of form.

City did set up a grandstand finish courtesy of a fine goal from De Girolamo, who worked a yard of space on the edge of the penalty area before firing a low drive just inside the near post.

But when substitute Joe Morrell sent a last-gasp free kick flashing across the six-yard box untouched, City’s luck was out.

Bristol City Under-23s: Lucic, Harris, Lyons-Foster, Kelly, Nurse (Challis 52), Pack, Brownhill, Dowling (Morrell 77), De Girolamo, McCoulsky, Engvall (Lemonheigh-Evans 54). Subs not used: Wollacott, McNulty.