U21 REPORT: Spurs 0-1 Manchester United

Manchester United U21’s beat Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Monday evening. It was a performance that delighted coach Warren Joyce as he saw his players put in a lot of effort to secure the victory, which with two more matches remaining, keeps them on track for a semi-final place in their bid to retain the Barclays U21 Premier League title. It was James Wilson, the man of the moment, that scored the only goal of the match, capitalising on a rare chance on goal. Ben Amos also put in a performance keeping his eighth clean sheet in 13 appearances.

Spurs put out a strong side which included former United player Zeki Fryers, Mouse Dembele and Nabil Bentaleb, and with those experienced played in the side they dominated possession, which effectively meant nothing considering they did not score a goal. Warren Joyce’s side struggled to get close to Jordan Archer’s goal, with the first half being pretty frustrating, but Amos and Charni Ekangamene did impress their coach. Josh Onomah found the back of the net inside the third minute of the match, even though the referee had already blown the whistle, he also forced a near-post save from Amos soon after his disallowed goal.

United’s Uruguayan right-back Guillermo Varela suffered a nasty head injury, which saw Saidy Janko pulled back from a more advanced position, which also gave him the chance to play the best part of 70 minutes in a defensive position, which would have also given David Moyes some footage of the 18-year-old to see whether he could be an option for the first team in that position either next season, or the season after. James Wilson also dropped back with the 18-year-old having to do more work in United box, that in the oppositions.

Souleymane Coulibaly turned around Ekangamene and fired his shot wide of the target, with the Belgian midfielder turned central defender also making a superb sliding interception to stop Onomah from scoring. Ben Amos thwarted Kenny McEvoy with a double save. United did start to string some positive moved together towards the end of the first half, and although the second half was reminiscent of the first, Amos was less involved with United keeping the majority of the ball away from their box.

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United captain Reece James launched the visitors first real shot of the match on the 57th minute, a shot which won a corner for United. Substitute James Weir should have put United ahead from the corner, but his header was saved by Archer after Louis Rowley nodded the ball towards Weir for the shot. Moments later Janko put the ball inside to Weir as United were on the attack again. A neat run by the midfielder allowed Wilson to take possession of the ball on the edge of the Spurs box, drilling home his shot to put United ahead. Archer could not get anywhere near the man of the moments shot.

Ben Pearson produces a superb showing in the United midfield against the more experienced opponents, which could see him find his way into the first team within the next few years, perhaps after a period of loan spells. Wilson was tiring, which meant he was only able to provide flashes of quality and Warren Joyce’s side had to dig in to keep their victory, and Spurs did try and end that. Spurs were pressing United but were also unable to find a way through to even test Ben Amos again. Ekangamene and Paddy McNair put in a great display in the centre of defence, albeit neither were natural defenders.

Lameiras did put in a volley over the top from the edge of United’s box, but Andreas Pereira also got a shot on target in injury time. United held out for the 1-0 victory, which meant their chances of making the semi-finals of the competition were still within reach and with two matches remaining, two more victories could see them through. United face Norwich City at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. United are currently sixth in the Barclays U21 Premier League table on 35 points and with six points still up for grabs, they could match top of the table Liverpool with 41 points, although they still have one more match to play.

Manchester United: 1. Amos; 2. Varela (12. Weir 20′), 4. McNair, 5. Ekangamene, 3. James; 6. Pearson, 8. Rowley (15. Harrop 78′); 11. Janko, 7. Rothwell, 10. A. Pereira; 9. Wilson

Substitutes Not Used: 13. J. Pereira, 14. Rudge, 16. McConnell

[tb_fixtures comp=”205″ season=”965″ club=”2252″ linktext=”View all fixtures” title=”Barclays U21 Premier League Fixtures”]

By Paul Bienkowski

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