Manchester United started their new season in the Premier League 2, division one with a 1-0 win against Leicester City at Leigh Sports Village on Monday evening. United U23 manager Warren Joyce picked a strong side, despite not having a true striker in his team, based on the fact that the likes of Will Keane and James Wilson could be spending this season away from the club on loan, or move permanently. Joyce selected Sam Johnstone, an experienced goalkeeper to fortify his team, bolstered with Joe Riley, Regan Poole, Axel Tuanzebe and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson forming the back four. Devonte Redmond and Matty Willock completed the midfield, with the three behind the striker being Matt Olosunde, Josh Harrop, and Tosin Kehinde, with captain James Weir leading the line.
United started well with the ball, looking to break down their opposition. With no recognised striker, despite Weir playing in that role, the advantage seemed to be that Leicester did not know who would be playing in that role, with Weir floating about in the front three. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson looked lively in the left-back position, getting forward like he did for the first team last season, firing a shot towards goal. Matt Olosunde was another who was performing well – naturally a defender, but recently playing on the right-wing, which he has experience in as he started out as a winger. United were trying to do all they could to break the deadlock, but so far, Leicester seemed to be an even match.
Just after half an hour, United looked good on the attack through Kehinde, Willock and Weir going forward. The latter lofted the ball into the box, but he was ruled offside. United looked quick on the attack and determined to get something out of it. Leicester then kept possession for a period of time, before United regained the ball and attempted to break their opposition down again, to no avail. Tom Lawrence, a former United Academy player had a shot on goal with ten minutes to go in the first half, which was off target completely. United seemed to be dealing with everything Leicester could throw at them, but the same was the case for what United were trying to throw at Leicester. United need some inspiration.
Another former United Academy player Ritchie De Laet had a header on goal, which again was wide of the mark. Leicester also had Matty James playing, another former Academy player. They seem to have a few of those accumulated within their entire squad, an obsession maybe? In the dying minutes of the first half, Leicester found the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed for being offside. Sam Johnstone put in a good save to try and deny the shot. At the end of the first half, the scores were still level with few chances to change that. The second half would be something of a different affair with both teams trying to take advantage to find that match winning goal.
At the start of the second half, Leicester had a chance on goal through Gokhan Inler, a first team player not needed at the club, similar to Bastian Schweinsteiger at United, his shot was not something that troubled Johnstone. United immediately were on the attack through Harrop, who passed to Willock, whose shot on goal was on target, but direct to the keeper. Leicester again were trying to get something out of the match through Kaputska and Inler, with neither effort troubling Sam Johnstone. Axel Tuanzebe seemed to be having a good game, though, getting the better of Leicester every time he needed to get involved.
Manchester United made their first substitution of the match bringing on Demetri Mitchell for Matt Olosunde with Warren Joyce looking to add some spice to the game with Mitchell the most likely goalscorer for United. Both Leicester and United had attempted in the run up to the substitution, but nothing was getting the better of either side. Almost straight away Mitchell made an impact, but his resulting shot was thwarted by the away side. In the final 15 minutes of the match, both sides were getting lively looking for that elusive goal – Johnstone thwarted another effort from Leicester, earning his clean sheet so far in this match.
Leicester City’s Mitchell got the better of Regan Poole on the attack, but Johnstone stepped in to stop the away side from taking the advantage. Good play from the United shot stopper. Leicester were again on the attack in the final ten minutes of the match with the away side getting the better of Tuanzebe, which has to be the first time in the match. Tosin Kehinde stepped in and thwarted Leicester’s chance of finding anything to win them the match. Still all square.
United won a free-kick just outside of the Leicester area, with United passing the ball back instead of going for goal. The ball then finds its way back to Johnstone, who under pressure puts the ball out for a Leicester throw, which amounts to nothing. United then went on the attack, again with nothing coming from it, with Leicester doing the same. United then went on the attack with them winning a free-kick with Harrop looking to make a dent in the Leicester scoreline, but his shot was straight at the keeper.
With three or so minutes remaining, Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone put Demetri Mitchell through on goal after a lofted pass and a stunning run from the player, he then chipped the goalkeeper from a distance to put United into the lead. United were 1-0 with minutes left to play. United played the additional three minutes of added time, stifling out their opposition to holding onto their 1-0 lead, taking all three points from their opening match of the season. Next up for United will be Southampton in a weeks time at St Mary’s.
MUFCLatest.com Man of the Match: Axel Tuanzebe
Goals: Demitri Mitchell 87′
Assists: Sam Johnstone 87′
Manchester United: Johnstone; Riley, Poole, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson; Redmond, Willock; Olosunde (Mitchell 69′), Harrop, Kehinde; Weir
Substitutes Not Used: Henderson; Whelan, Scott, Tanner