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Dawson: "Plenty of positives to take"

Ben Dawson admitted there were "plenty of positives to take" from Newcastle United Under-21s' 2-2 draw against Leicester City in the Premier League 2 on Monday.

Newcastle's second-string got their opening game of 2024 off to a flying start courtesy of Dylan Stephenson's impressive chip inside two minutes at the Foxes' Training Ground before Harvey Godsmark-Ford's header drew the hosts level.

United's youngsters struck the bar twice in the second-half before Parkinson's deft finish regained Newcastle's lead in the closing stages and, although Oliver Ewing's stoppage-time finish cruelly denied the visitors a first away win of the 2023/24 campaign, Dawson believed a number of positives outweighed the late leveller.

"I think everybody's feeling disappointed," Dawson told nufc.co.uk. "The feeling within the dressing room is that they've done enough and shown enough to win the game, especially in the second-half. We tweaked a couple of things at half-time, with a good response from the lads and the substitutes who came on made an impact in the way we wanted them to.

"There's plenty of positives to take from the game. I know the players and staff are hurting because of the result more through the nature of conceding in the last seconds but we're trying to focus on the positives.

"We've had a really good couple of weeks since the last game before the Christmas break. The lads have worked really well and the performance reflected that.

"One of the things we spoke about, coming down here, was when we last came here before the game was abandoned (due to a medical emergency), we were really good in the warm-up and then started the game in the opposite way, conceding twice.

"Whether we scored too early today and almost took our foot off the gas a little bit, I was really pleased with the warm-up, which prepared us to start the game in the way we did."

Parkinson, who made his Premier League debut for his boyhood club away at AFC Bournemouth in November, netted his third goal of the 2023/24 season at under-21 level and has trained regularly with United's first-team in recent months.

Dawson believes the 18-year-old forward, who signed his first professional contract with the Magpies last summer, has only enhanced his game further following his involvement at senior level this term.

"Whenever the lads get the opportunity to train with the first-team, it's always a benefit and you see little glimpses when they come back to the under-21s group," Dawson added.

"Ben's had a longer period than most, in terms of days spent up with the first-team group and you can see that in some of his play.

"He's always had that knack of being in the right place at the right time and was fortunate enough to be in the right place to score tonight which should have been the goal that killed the game off."

Newcastle's second-string will host their Aston Villa counterparts at Whitley Park on Monday, 15th January, aiming to return to winning ways in the Premier League 2, with Dawson keen to build on their four-goal draw against the Foxes.

"Even though the lads are disappointed, there's still plenty of positivity and the lads are encouraging each other. As staff, we'll reflect on the game, watch it again and feed back to the players but I think there'll be plenty of positives to take for the Aston Villa game so we'll be able to approach it with a lot more confidence than what the result suggests."

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