A disappointing evening for the United youngsters as Sunderland emerged comfortable winners at Leigh Sports Village. United started brightly enough, with Matty Willock using his power to drive through Sunderland’s midfield and push United forward. However, Sunderland soon grew into the game and stifled this positive start. United created one clear-cut chance in the first 45 as Josh Harrop – United’s only real penetrative force in the game – wriggled his way into the box to see his pass deflected into the path of Regan Poole 10 yards out, who jinked in onto his left foot to force a smart save out of the Sunderland ‘keeper. This proved to be a rare opportunity as Sunderland enjoyed the better chances, if allowing United to have the lion’s share of possession. Sunderland eventually took the lead on the 43rd minute as Seb Larsson’s tame effort was deflected past the stranded Kieran O’Hara by the desperately unlucky Axel Tuanzebe. One positive from the first half was in the performance of Sean Goss, who confidently dictated the game, spreading the play to magnificent effect.
United failed to improve in the second half as Sunderland pressed harder, with United struggling to create any kind of chance. The forwards offered no outlet to Goss, Willock and Kehinde in midfield in any capacity, failing to hold the ball up or make runs in behind. United’s forwards all seemed to want to come inside to collect the ball, with none looking to run off it. Sunderland extended their lead with 60 minutes on the clock as Kirchoff won the ball in midfield to play through Larsson, who played the ball back to Kirchoff on the penalty spot to fire into the roof of the net. The introduction of Demetri Mitchell midway through the second half failed to sway the tide of the game, as United’s number 15 on the night failed to stretch the play or make consistent runs in behind. Matty Willock drove forward and saw his long-range effort sail over the bar in the 65th minute, with what was United’s most dangerous effort of the half to that point. United made two more changes on the 78th minute as Scott and Olosunde replaced Willock and El-Fitouri. United turned up the heat for the last ten minutes and should have had a penalty on the 85th minute, however it was too little too late as Sunderland ran out comfortable winners.
Manchester United: O’Hara; Williams, Poole, Tuanzebe, El-Fitouri (Olosunde 78’); Kehinde (Mitchell 61’), Goss; Willock (Scott 78’), Harrop, McTominay; Redmond
Substitutes Not Used: Moutha-Sebtaoui, Doughty
Written by Jonathan Murphy