Manchester United U23’s took on Liverpool U23’s at Leigh Sports Village in Premier League 2 tonight. The game got off to a ferocious start with tackles flying in from both sides. The first real chance of the game fell to United with eight minutes played as Willock intercepted the ball and shot on goal, only for Mamadou Sakho to deflect the shot wide. The referee missed the deflection however and awarded a goal kick to Liverpool.
United pressed Liverpool high up the park and would not allow any of their player’s time on the ball. Williams, in particular, doing well to frustrate Danny Ings in the opening fifteen minutes.
Liverpool took the lead through a delicate finish from Harry Wilson. The ball had been whipped in and went all the way to the back post where Danny Ings saw his effort rebound off the post, however, United could not clear the danger and the ball was driven back in towards Wilson who cleverly wrong-footed Sam Johnstone with a back heel as the ball rolled into the back of the net.
On the twenty-second minute, United were almost level as a cross from Willock almost found the feet of Scott McTominay but the keeper scrambled out to collect before the United midfielder could equalize.
Danny Ings went down in the twenty-fifth minute with a head injury but got up and was able to continue. Olisunde and Willock were combining well on the wing to try and work something for United.
Sam Johnstone was forced into action on the half-hour as Liverpool whipped a free kick into the box and the ball was headed towards the corner of the net before Johnstone got his hand on it to push away for a corner. The United keeper was required to get down low to beat another shot away in the thirty-third minute from long distance.
Harrop couldn’t get much behind his effort, which rolled into the hands of the Liverpool keeper as the first half ebbed and flowed towards half time.
United worked the ball well between Riley and Harrop before rolling the ball towards Redmond who thundered the ball from twenty-five yards only to see it crash off the bar, the Liverpool keeper dived but it was a token effort as he was beaten all ends up by the strike. It was by far United’s best chance of the entire first half and Redmond was unlucky to be denied by the woodwork as the clock showed forty-two minutes played.
The first yellow card was shown right on half time to Trent Alexander-Arnold as he scythed down Riley. The resulting free kick evaded everyone and Poole couldn’t convert at the back post as he tried to hook it back across goal.
United made a great start to the second half as McTominay drove through the Liverpool defence and was tripped from behind on the forty-ninth minute. The referee had no issue pointing straight to the spot and Joshua Harrop strode up with poise and purpose to slide the ball into the left-hand side of the net to level the game at 1-1.
A third goal in four games for United’s number 10 and more importantly an equaliser on the night.
Liverpool then had appeals for a penalty waved away just minutes later as Wilson felt that El Fitouri had pushed him down in the box. Replays showed that perhaps the young Welshman might have been unlucky to not be given the penalty.
Charlie Scott came on to replace Matt Olisunde after sixty-three minutes and three minutes later had a chance to score. Riley worked well individually down the wing to win a corner, which was swung in by Harrop and cleared by the Liverpool defence as far as Scott who blasted over.
The second half was offering very little in the way of chances until Ings broke free and was one on one with Sam Johnstone who produced a stunning save with fifteen minutes to go. The save was one that David De Gea would’ve been proud of as the United keeper stood tall until the last possible moment before blocking with his feet.
Liverpool were pressuring the United defence and their captain Harry Wilson couldn’t keep his composure from eighteen yards out as he blasted over following another clearance from Tuanzebe. The away side made their first change after seventy-eight minutes with Ejaria being replaced by Woodburn who is a striker born in Chester.
A second change from Liverpool in the eighty-second minute as their captain Harry Wilson was replaced by Cameron Brannagan, born in Salford, but captaining Liverpool for the final eight minutes.
Liverpool were trying everything to snatch a winner in the final couple of minutes but United were standing strong as a unit with Tuanzebe and Williams clearing every ball that entered the United box.
Sam Johnstone was required to smother two Danny Ings half chances in stoppage time and so it finished Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool.
Ultimately, Warren Joyce will be happy with a point from this game and in particular with the defensive efforts of the two centre backs. No wonder they have been expected to come into the first team squad sooner rather than later. Joyce also must be feeling contented with a point considering there isn’t a single recognised striker in the team. Liverpool may feel that they should have taken all three points back to Anfield.
Goals: Josh Harrop 50′ (penalty)
Manchester United: Johnstone; Williams, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley; Redmond; Olosunde (Scott 64′), McTominay, Harrop, El Fitouri; Willock
Substitutes Not Used: Mitchell, Henderson, Kehinde, Tanner
Written by Darren McConachie