Manchester United U21’s defeated Aston Villa 3-0 at Old Trafford on Monday evening, in a match that saw first team defender Jonny Evans play for 65 minutes in his comeback from injury. The Northern Ireland international put in a great performance in the heart of defence after goals by man of the moment James Wilson, Joe Rothwell and Saidy Janko sealed the all important three points for Warren Joyce’s side, which keeps alive their hopes of a top four finish in the Barclays U21 Premier League this season.
United second string had a great game, with Villa shot stopper Bradley Watkins prevented the home side from winning by a greater margin, saving his sides blushes. Summer signing Janko saw much of the ball with a number of United attacks coming down the right-wing, with the Swiss youth international getting past Watkins only for the keeper to recover and stop him from scoring. Charni Ekangamene, recently recalled from League Two side Carlisle United, was back in his midfield position, also pulled a shot wide after Ben Pearson’s pass, which was the start of United taking control of the match by scoring twice in four minutes.
Wilson won the ball, lost it and regained possession once again with Janko becoming involved in the build-up play, he shot a stunning left-footed shot into the top corner of the net to put United 1-0 up. It was a heat goal for the much talked about youngster who earned a place on the bench in David Moyes first team away to Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon. Within the four minutes where United were pressing, some great work by Andreas Pereira resulted in Janko sweeping a pass to Rothwell who found the bottom corner of the net with a calm and composed finish. United were 2-0 up, but Villa could strike at anytime putting them back into the match.
United were the dominant team at the Theatre of Dreams as Wilson ran onto a Pereira through ball, beat Watkins but his shot from a difficult angle was wide of the target. Pereira shot over the crossbar after he ignored a call from Rothwell and Janko also fired across the goal. Daniel Johnson was off target with Villa’s clearest chance which was provided by Graham Burke. It was a costly match for Villa with Janko claiming his first goal of his United career, first of many hopefully, after he won a header which freed Guillermo Varela and he then smashed his shot home after the Uruguayan right-back passed the ball back to him. Watkins was in the firing line for all three goals, but he also put in a great performance to stop United scoring more.
Rothwell tried to double his tally from outside the box, but a fingertip save from Watkins meant he would have to keep trying to score again. Wilson, who really is impressing his coaches at the club drilled another shot which was just off target and bringing out the best of Watkins following a Pereira pass in which the Villa goalkeeper performed a flying one-handed save. Wilson was replaced with 12 minutes remaining, leaving United with no true out-and-out striker. Robinson headed over the crossbar from close-range, which added to a disappointing evening from Gordon Cowan’s side. Ben Amos kept himself another clean sheet, showing his class at this level.
Andreas Pereira had a final attempt for United, but he shot over the crossbar before a breakaway led to Janko, who put in a powerful run down the right-wing, being unable to pick out his team-mate with a cross. It was a decent display by Joyce’s side, who put their all into the match and earned the three points that the coach wanted. United have three matches left in the league have risen to seventh place on 32 points, six shy of second placed Fulham who have played all of their matches. Two more wins and we will see United’s chances of making the semi-finals of the competition will be high, giving them a chance to defend their title to the end.
Manchester United: Amos; Varela, McNair, J.Evans (Love 65′), James; Janko, Ekangamene (Rudge 81′), Pearson, Rothwell, A.Pereira; Wilson (Rowley 78′) Substitutes Not Used: Gollini, Harrop
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By Paul Bienkowski
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