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Report: Manchester United 1-0 Manchester City – Barclays U21 Premier League 2015/16

Manchester United face Manchester City in the Barclays U21 Premier League on Thursday night at Leigh Sports Village. After beating Norwich City 7-0 on Monday, changes were made with Sergio Romero, Phil Jones, Adnan Januzaj, Andreas Pereira and Memphis Depay all not being involved. Regan Poole, who was cleared to play for United just over a week ago made his first start for his club. Timothy Fosu-Mensah, a goalscorer on Monday evening at Old Trafford, returned to the starting XI, as did Joe Rothwell, Joel Castro Pereira and Joe Riley. Will Keane, the scorer of five goals on Monday led the line for the home side.

Manchester United started the match like their last, on the front foot and looking for a goal. Warren Joyce’s side put the pressure on City, who pressured in their own way. The first fifteen minutes of the match was spent with both team probing, with United doing the majority of the attacking. Will Keane was lively, breaking through in the 16th minute of the match, after a lovely pass by Timothy Fosu-Mensah, then being crowded out in the box, holding up the ball, before passing to the on-rushing Joe Rothwell, who buried his shot into the back ot the City net. Manchester United were 1-0 up and surely on their way to the top of the league.

In the 22nd minute of the match, City had their first chance on goal, in which Joel Castro Pereira made the save to thwart City’s efforts. United had some pressure to deal with from there, but recovered the ball and went on the attack, which was stopped by City taking possession in their area. In the 25th minute of the match, Will Keane was again on the attack, but the flag went up for offside, his finish was not on target either. City were seeking an equaliser, United appealed for a handball, but play continued. Garcia managed a shot, but it was blocked. The away side are still behind and have a lot to do to get back into the game. They do look the better side in the past few minutes and may be waking up.

Josh Harrop went down injured and after treatment decided to play on, despite a sub warming up to replace him. Minutes later he had a shot on goal, which was thwarted by the keeper, the rebound was too. United were looking lively again and were looking to double their lead before the end of the half. United would have to press in the second half to secure their lead, and City needed to step it up a gear to two in order to get back into the game.

At the start of the second half Ro-Shaun Williams made a crucial interception as City were looking to get themselves back into the match, but it did not continue as lively as it started. James Weir got into the City half ten minutes into the second half, but was bullied off the ball with City looking to limit the damage United could cause against them. Bytyqi could have put City back into the match with a pass which could have created a chance for the visitors, but it did not pay off for them. Williams, who is looking like a player who could progress into the first team at some stage this season, should he be called upon, played a decent pass to Keane, but Adarabioyo cleared the threat.

Manchester United made two changes in the space of a minute with Josh Harrop being replaces by Sadiq El-Fitouri and Joe Rothwell being replaced by Marcus Rashford. El-Fitouri really does not look the part for United with calls of ‘Come on Sadiq coming from the sidelines, presumably from Warren Joyce and from his team-mates. Joel Castro Pereira has had a good game, putting in a good save in the first half to deny City and seemingly continuing that in the second half, especially late in the game to retain his clean sheet. City had been pressing for an equaliser, but it was not coming for the visitors. United had a late chance to double their lead with Weir passed the ball whilst he was in space, but City regained possession and thwarted United’s efforts. Three minutes of added time was played, City had a chance to equalise but Regan Poole put it a big block to deny the visitors. Moments later, the visitors had another chance. Joyce wanted to bring in Scott McTominay in the final minutes, but there was no break in play to bring him into the fold. Manchester United are top of the Barclays U21 Premier League.

Warren Joyce has built a good U21 side over the years. This season he has them holding their lines and attacking with pace, which is the United way, so those suggestions of the club losing their identity should be disregarded. United face Reading at Leigh Sports Village on Monday evening, with Sunderland facing Middlesbrough at home. United are however top of the league this evening, two points clear of Sunderland, so another victory should retain that on Monday with United having a game in had over their challengers.

Goals: Joe Rothwell 16′

Assists: Will Keane 16′

Manchester United: J. Pereira; Love, Williams, Poole, Riley; Fosu-Mensah, Redmond; Rothwell (Rashford 71′), Harrop (El-Fitouri 69′), Weir: Keane Substitutes: Henderson, McTominay, Mitchell

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