Manchester United’s U23’s were defeated 2-0 by a resurgent Southampton at St Mary’s with Josh Sims and Jack Stephens both scoring in the second half with United left rueing their chances after James Weir missed the chance to score twice in the first half of the match.
Warren Joyce had a much-changed team this week with Dean Henderson in goal, Sadiq El Fitouri, Regan Poole, Axel Tuanzebe and Joe Riley in defence. Scott McTominay, Joshua Harrop, Matty Willock, Devonte Redmond and Tosin Kehinde were all present in midfield, with James Weir acting as the striker with United short of forwards in this age group currently. Sam Johnstone started a week ago, but he’s suffering from a knock, which keeps him out of action this week, though many may read a little more into it with the transfer window coming to an end in just over a weeks time. United started well, but soon conceded a free kick through Harrop, with United throwing all their players back to defend, which amounted to nothing for the home side.
In the seventh minute, McTominay ran into Southampton’s area, passing the ball to Weir, but he fluffed his lines and did not get his shot away well. United had a good chance to be 1-0 up early into the match. McTominay was playing in his proper position, after leading the line at times at the start of the season, and through pre-season. United had glimpses of good play, but Southampton seemed to be the side in the better form so far, but United have had a few good chances, which so far amounted to nothing. In the 28th minute, Henderson made a great save to deny Hesketh from twenty-yards out, tipping the ball over the crossbar.
Heading into the final minutes of the first half, James Weir again missed a goalscoring opportunity with Harrop taking the corner, the Southampton keeper failing to get a good grasp of the ball, it falling to Weir inside the box with the makeshift striker missing his shot completely. United could have been 2-0 up at the break of both credible shots were taken. No added time was played at the end of the first half. The first half ended 0-0 with chances from both sides, neither getting the better of their opposition. United will face a lot of work to do in the second half if they wanted to leave the South Coast with all three points from their second match of the season.
At the start of the second half, Axel Tuanzebe denied Olomola from a clear goal with brilliant defending, showing why Jose Mourinho rates the player, even after a few minutes playing against Wigan Athletic at the start of pre-season. Weir has changes positions, playing in a more recognised position for him, with Harrop now leading the line, changing it up a little to try and get the better of the resurgent home side. Ten minutes into the second half, Sims found the back of the net for the home side after a perfect pass from Hesketh. Tuanzebe did all he could to thwart his efforts, but the ball deflected off Riley past Henderson. United now had a lot more to do in order to rescue something from this match.
United nearly replied to Southampton’s opening goal through Harrop, but none of his teammates were near the ball in the box to get the better of the deflection from the goalkeeper. Good chance for United, but again not something that was taken all that well, or with much thought about following up the shot. It was, however, United’s first shot on target in this match. Southampton doubled their lead leaving United with a lot more work to do to get back into the match, let alone leave St Mary’s with three points. The home side had a corner, with Stephens left to have a free header on goal, pushing Weir out of the way, scoring the club’s second goal.
United made their first change with last week’s match-winner Demetri Mitchell replacing El Fitouri. Southampton seemed to take control of the match with Olomola nearly getting a third and finishing United, but his attempt was thwarted by him not hitting the target. United now had 25 minutes to rescue something from the match, something that would be short of a miracle at this moment in time. It would seem that not having a clinical striker is not paying off for United, but with James Wilson heading to Derby and Andreas Pereira and Will Keane likely to head out on loan before deadline day, risking them getting injured could stop them from heading out to gain experience.
United nearly conceded a third, again with Southampton on the attack. Henderson failed to keep hold of the ball with the onrushing Olomola heading towards goal, Henderson then got hold of the ball with the burly striker falling into the near post. After treatment, Olomola was able to continue. United was still looking for a lifeline to keep the game alive for United. From the corner, United could have done something to get them back into the match, but their resulting shot was cleared off the line by the home side. United have had many chances, none of them coming off. United now had another corner with 13 minutes remaining, taken by Harrop, headed by Tuanzebe, albeit mistimed with the Southampton keeper catching the ball. United seemed out of chances.
United face Chelsea at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday afternoon, kicking off at 13:05, live on MUTV. United will be looking to get back to winning ways against the Blues.
Manchester United: Henderson; El Fitouri (Mitchell 62′), Poole, Tuanzebe, Riley; McTominay; Harrop, Willock, Redmond, Kehinde; Weir
Substitutes Not Used: O’Hara; Sang, Scott; Whelan