With the sun setting over the Shandong Luneng Academy Stadium the Jets took to the field against China’s National Youth team in their fourth Weifang Cup fixture.
With a boisterous home crowd and a huge television audience, the stage was set for a massive encounter for the young Jets.
Opportunities to play against national teams don’t come along to often and Labi Haliti had his boys pumped for the occasion.
Five minutes in the home side were on the scoreboard after a long-range shot was misread by keeper, Tristan Esquilant.
Despite the setback, Newcastle were pushing forward and attacking the Chinese back four down both edges.
Callum Gabriel – playing out of position as a holding midfielder – got on the end of a Josh Cairelli cross but put his shot just over the bar.
Minutes later Joey O’Connor put a ball into the six-yard box, just evading the lunging Cairelli before being cleared by the defence.
It was end-to-end with both teams breaking from turnovers in the middle, with the game being played at a frantic pace.
Newcastle was looking sharp but were just unable to finish off their good work in the final third, with numerous balls into the box wasted.
Esquilant was called into action again in the 38th minute, this time deflecting a ball over the bar with his body.
Minutes later Jack Simmons, who was running amok in the midfield, pushed his header wide after getting on the end of another O’Connor cross into the box.
The best chance of the half for the Jets came after another pulsating run by Simmons, who beat two defenders and was on goal, only to be called back by the official after being adjudged to have handled the ball.
Newcastle started the second stanza the same way they finished the first – full of run.
Tom Curran was dominant in midfield and Harrison – who replaced Cairelli at half-time – was causing havoc down the right.
However another mistake on the last line saw the Chinese score their second, this time from a header at the back post of a corner kick.
Minutes later Harrison was played through again by Smith only to be bought down in the box, with the referee pointing straight to the spot.
The striker made no mistake hitting the ball low into the bottom right corner to notch up his third goal of the tournament.
Newcastle kept probing and creating chances but in the end ran out of time and the game finished a respectable 2-1 to the China’s National.