NEWCASTLE scored three second-half goals as they made a winning start to their pre-season programme at Carlisle United.

Leon Best, Nile Ranger and Haris Vuckic were all on target as the Magpies produced a slick second-half showing against their League One opponents.

But the afternoon had a sting in the tail as Steven Taylor was forced off in the final ten minutes clutching his wrist. The defender, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, appeared in a considerable amount of pain, and Newcastle officials will be hoping that nothing is broken.

Magpies manager Chris Hughton named a strong starting line-up featuring eight players who could conceivably start the opening game of the season at Old Trafford.

It is dangerous to read too much into performances at the start of pre-season, but it is to be hoped they perform better there than they did before the break at Brunton Park.

Newcastle failed to force Carlisle goalkeeper Adam Collin into a single save before the break, although Peter Lovenkrands should have done better with a goal-bound 14-yard strike that was easily cleared by former Sunderland midfielder Paul Thirlwell.

Carlisle, on the other hand, came close twice inside the opening 45 minutes. First, Ian Harte headed Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s corner towards the far corner of the net, only for Jose Enrique to hack the ball clear via the underside of the crossbar.

Then, seven minutes later, Tom Taiwo’s through ball sent Gary Madine racing clear, but while the Carlisle striker successfully lobbed Steve Harper, he also sent the ball spiralling onto the roof of the net.

Hughton changed all 11 players at the interval, introducing the likes of Steven Taylor, Danny Guthrie, Joey Barton and new signing James Perch, and the new-look side took just two minutes to break the deadlock.

Wayne Routledge released Best through the middle, and the striker, who failed to break his duck in 13 senior appearances last season, rounded Collin before rolling the ball into the net.

Newcastle were much brighter in the second half, and Ranger wasted a decent chance to double the visitors’ lead when he shot against Collin’s legs after breaking clear down the left.

The striker atoned for that miss a minute later, however, turning in Routledge’s cross at the near post after the winger produced a fine run down the right.

Newcastle grabbed a third with 16 minutes left, with highly-rated youngster Vuckic turning nearly in the box before rolling a precise finish into the bottom left-hand corner.

CARLISLE (4-4-2): Collin (Caig 71); Simek (Kane 67), M’Voto (Wood 74), Harte (Swinglehurst 85), Murphy (Gibson 67); Berrett, Thirlwell (Cregg 46), Bridge-Wilkinson (Hurst 46), Taiwo (Robson 46); Curran (Zoko 46), Madine (Price 46).


First Half (4-4-2): Harper; Tavernier, Coloccini, Williamson, Enrique; Inman, Smith, Nolan, LuaLua; Carroll, Lovenkrands.

Second Half (4-4-2): Krul; R Taylor, S Taylor (Henderson 81), Perch, Ferguson; Routledge, Guthrie, Barton, Vuckic; Best, Ranger.

Sub (not used): McLaughlin.