Manchester United U23’s faced Sunderland in the Premier League 2 on Monday as they began life without Warren Joyce as manager. With United still to name a permanent U23 manager, Nicky Butt took on the role of caretaker manager. United hadn’t played a competitive game at this level since a 1-1 draw against Spurs on October 28th and were looking for all three points against a Sunderland side who had lost their last two games. United’s youngsters were up against an experienced Sunderland team which included first team players Sebastian Larsson and Jan Kirchoff.
United began the game brightly in extremely windy conditions as they saw most of the ball in the opening stages with Willock prominent as he carried the ball forward on a number of occasions. There was little by way of chances early on however as both teams misplaced a number of passes as they looked to come to terms with the conditions. The first real shot of the game came from Sunderland’s Larsson in the 13th minute but his powerful shot from the edge of the area flew over the bar.
Sunderland went close to taking the lead in the 17th minute as Gooch spun on the edge of the box and fired a low shot across goal which flew narrowly wide of the post. United struggled to build any momentum as Sunderland were quick into the tackles in midfield and were a bit overly aggressive on a couple of occasions with Robson booked for a foul on Harrop and Larsson lucky not to be booked for a foul on McTominay. As United played on for few minutes with 10 men they had the best chance of the game as Harrop’s pass was deflected to Poole who beat the defender but saw his shot from 8 yards beaten away by the goalkeeper in the 30th minute.
Sean Goss was the brightest player on the pitch in the first half as he displayed his passing range spraying 40 and 50 yard passes around the pitch in spite of the conditions. Sunderland took the lead in the 43rd minute as Poole’s poor clearance went straight to Larsson on the edge of the box and his weak shot looked like it would be comfortably dealt with by O’Hara before it deflected off Tuanzebe and into the net. The sides went in at half time with Sunderland leading 1-0.
United began the 2nd half on top as they upped the tempo of the game and won a number of free kicks around the Sunderland area but struggled to create any chances. Sean Goss continued to impress in the 2nd half and saw a 30 yard free kick blocked by the wall after he had been brought down by Kirchoff. In the 60th minute Sunderland made it 2-0 with their first attack of the 2nd half as Kirchoff won the ball in midfield and found Honeyman with a through ball, Honeyman then pulled the ball back to the edge of the box for Kirchoff to finish powerfully.
Sunderland went close to making it 3-0 in the 68th minute as Gooch smashed a powerful shot towards goal from 25 yards out but O’Hara did very well to push the ball wide for a corner. It was all Sunderland for 15 minutes following the 2nd goal as United looked to have given up and struggled to keep any possession as Sunderland attacked at will. United created a good chance in the 77th minute as McTominay chested the ball down to Redmond on the edge of the box but his half volley flew over the bar.
United should have had a penalty in the 88th minute as Harrop’s through ball found Redmond who was brought down in the area but the referee waved away United’s protests and gave a corner instead. United went close to scoring a consolation goal twice in injury time as Mitchell fired over from outside the box before Harrop saw a powerful strike beaten away by the goalkeeper. The game finished 2-0 with Sunderland deserved winners after a poor display from United.
Goals: Tuanzebe o.g. 43′, Kirchoff 60′
Manchester United: O’Hara; Williams, Tuanzebe, Poole, El Fitouri (Scott); Goss, Kehinde (Mitchell); Willock (Olosunde), McTominay, Harrop; Redmond
Substitutes Not Used: Moutha-Sebtaoui, Doughty