Manchester United U18’s were defeated 3-2 by Sunderland at the Academy of Light on Wednesday afternoon. Five goals were scored in the match, but United only scored twice through Marcus Rashford and Ruairi Croskery. Paul McGuinness fielded an U17 line-up, keeping his focus on next season seeing as United cannot now qualify for the play off round of the Barclays U18 Premier League. Jordan Blinco took a Daniel Pybus pass early in the match, but Dean Henderson saved well, and also denied the same player from scoring moments later.
The young Red Devils went close to break the deadlock with Joe Riley, who ran down the right to cross, with full-back Tyrell Warren failing to get enough on the ball to find the back of the net. Sunderland goalkeeper Greg Purvis was lucky with that shot. Henderson was worked once again, this time by Steven McCarthy and once again by Blinco, but neither had chance to find an opening goal. Andrew Nelson turned Axel Tuanzebe, the United skipper, and Charlie Scott slipped and Ethan Robson was left clear to put the home side 1-0 up.
In added time at the end of the first half, United found the equaliser with a long-range finish from Rashford, that bent and dipped into the corner, leaving Purvis stranded. Rashford’s goal will most likely be a Goal of the Month contender, it was that good. Demetri Mitchell was replaced after feeling unwell, but it did not deter McGuinness’ side, who enjoyed more of the possession in the second half. Croskery hit his effort over the crossbar, which could have put United ahead for the first time in the match.
Henderson continued to impress in United’s goal, he made a save from Nelson, he also put in a great amount of effort to stop a Blinco drive, which hit the post. Blinco did however score inside the 78th minute. He pounced onto the ball and fired past the United keeper after Scott made a challenge on the edge of the box. Sunderland were 2-1 up in the match, but the young United side were doing well. The lead only lasted the best part of a minute after Scott ran forward to collect an Oliver Rathbone pass, he then crossed to Croskery, whose powerful shot hit the back of the net.
The match could have gone either way in the dying minutes of the match with both sides attacking to get the better of each other. It was the Black Cats who snatched the winner just four minutes from time. Nelson had three attempts, two were off target and his third saw Henderson deny him once again, but Pybus hammered his shot into the corner of the net, which meant United left empty-handed. United are sixth in the Barclays U18 Premier League this season, and with one match remaining, it is the highest they can achieve. I am sure Paul McGuinness will continue to blood in younger players, with a view on next season.
Manchester United: Henderson; Warren (Blanchfield 38, Makela 69), Scott, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson; Riley, Thompson, Kehinde, Rashford, Mitchell (Rathbone 52); Croskery Substitutes Not Used: Dorrington, Johnson.
By Paul Bienkowski
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