Manchester United’s U23’s faced Derby County at Old Trafford on Monday night looking for a first league win in four games after two draws and a loss. Derby County were yet to register a point this season and sat second from bottom in the league ahead of Leicester City on goal difference. United made one change to the side which beat Villarreal last week as Kieran O’Hara replaced Sam Johnstone in goal while there was the first involvement for 16-year-old Tahith Chong on the bench as well as a return from injury for Ro-Shaun Williams.
United had the first effort of the game in the second minute as El Fitouri’s right-wing cross found Harrop on the edge of the box but he dragged his shot wide of goal. Following a strong run down the left wing Riley tested the Derby goalkeeper from 20 yards in the seventh minute but his shot lacked power and was saved comfortably. United were dealing comfortably with Derby’s attacks with Tuanzebe using his pace to cut out any danger. Josh Harrop was at the heart of all United’s attacking moves and it was no surprise to see him heavily involved when United took the lead in the 16th minute as he dribbled down the left-wing and checked back before crossing for McTominay to head home powerfully to make it 1-0.
Derby got into the game more after conceding and had a headed chance of their own which flew over before Tuanzebe denied what looked a certain goal with a brilliant last-ditch tackle in the 22nd minute. United went close to extending their lead in the 26th minute as Harrop struck a powerful effort from 25 yards but the defender got a slight block to take the pace off the shot and the goalkeeper saved well. McTominay was very lively for United and could have had a hat-trick as he went close twice in the space of a minute as he first got to Riley’s cross but his effort hit the post and then got on the end of Hamilton’s cross but fired over from six-yards.
United were regretting the misses soon after as Derby drew level as United failed to deal with a corner and the ball was knocked back across goal and Vernam headed home from close range to make it 1-1 in the 34th minute. United almost regained the lead immediately but Harrop’s dangerous ball across the face of goal was deflected out of the path of El Fitouri with the goal gaping. The teams went in level at 1-1 at halftime although United should have made more of their chances.
United had the first chance of the second half in the 48th minute and again it was McTominay looking to get on the end of a cross as he was inches away from getting a finishing touch to El Fitouri’s cross from the right-wing. After a complete switch off from United in the 54th minute, Derby went close to taking the lead as Walker headed narrowly wide following a free cross from the left-wing. In the first substitution of the game, Olosunde replaced Redmond in the 58th minute.
Derby were making it difficult for United to create chances in the second half as they defended in numbers but United finally made the breakthrough as they won the ball and broke forward quickly with Olosunde’s through pass finding Harrop who was brought down for a penalty. Harrop stepped up himself and smashed the ball into the bottom corner to give United a 2-1 lead in the 67th minute. Derby were refusing to lie down however and went close twice in the 71st minute as Williams made two important blocks to send the ball out for corners.
Derby were level in the 73rd minute as a dangerous cross from the right wasn’t dealt with by Tuanzebe and Vernam connected with a diving header to make it 2-2. United’s main threat was coming from crosses and they took the lead again in the 85th as Riley’s cross from the left was kept alive in the box by Olosunde and the ball fell for McTominay who swiveled and fired the ball into the bottom corner from six-yards. Once again Derby rallied after going behind and twice tested O’Hara from the edge of the box but he dealt well with both efforts to push the ball away. United saw out the game to claim the three points despite a spirited effort from Derby.
Goals: McTominay 16′, 85′, Harrop 67′
Manchester United: O’Hara; El Fitouri, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley; McTominay; Scott (Williams), Redmond (Olosunde), Harrop, Hamilton; Willock
Substitutes Not Used: Moutha-Sebtaoui, Chong, Doughty