U18s: Manchester United 4-0 Torquay United
By R. Nugent.
With Adnan Januzaj and Jack Rudge in midfield, the Reds had total control over the midfield, culminating in the lion’s share of possession and their passing game along with some link up play from Tom Lawrence and Jack Barmby meaning that there was plenty of clever interchange involved. Torquay however set out to spoil and their hard work and defending thwarted United up until the 17th minute.
This is when after a couple of earlier efforts and wasted chances Lawrence struck a beauty from 25-30 yards out. Upon receiving the ball from midfield he only had one thing on his mind – shoot, and that he did low into the bottom corner, leaving the keeper helpless for his fifth goal of the season and a well-deserved lead for the holders.
Adnan Januzaj showed superb technical ability and keeping the young reds ticking with his slick passing, while his other teammates continued to try and carve out opportunities. The best of which came when some quick thinking from a corner led to Rudge jinxing past one and shooting, but with not enough power the shot was easily saved by the goalkeeper. Unfortunate because the build-up and his neat skill deserved a goal.
United’s total dominance continued, but with no reward, until after pressing and pressing, passing and passing a major defensive cock-up presented Lawrence with the ball, and he coolly put it on a plate for Barmby to make it 2 -0 shortly before half time. Barmby who has really been the man of the moment this season made it his eight of the season. Following in his father’s footsteps, maybe?
The academy side could have had a penalty also as Tom Lawrence was blatantly fouled by McKenzie in the box, with the referee barely acknowledging the foul, even though he was only a few yards away from the incident. Yes Manchester United get all the decisions, don’t they?
The half time team talk must have been easy for Paul McGuinness. Something along the lines of “Keep passing the ball, keep possession, they’ll tire and we can then finish them off” I’d say. Yet although that’s how United set out from the start to keep the ball, there was finally a change of style from Torquay – they actually attacked! This didn’t last long however and the holders gained control of the game again, yet with very little attacking threat it must be said. The play being very one dimensional the majority of the time and only for a surging run through the midfield from Daehli, then picked out Barmby who hit the post, with the rebound hitting the off the unfortunate Beattie for an own goal. I say unfortunate because the boy had been very impressive at the back otherwise.
Torquay at this stage knew their cup dreams were over and played like a dejected team, chasing shadows as they had done all through the match and even when the impressive Januzaj was taken off, they couldn’t build up any type of tempo to attack their opponents and in that torrential weather I’m sure they just wanted to referee to blow it up.
And if they didn’t want it over then, they certainly must’ve wanted to finish up when Gyliano Van Velzen slotted home from a yard out. The Slick play between Barmby and substitute Love down the right flank to find the Belgian with a low cross making something difficult look so very simple.
As the game ended, we all got what we expected – a comfortable Manchester United win that put them through to the fourth round. It was a professional performance that maybe would not have interested the neutral viewer, but was solid and showed no signs of complacency. We might remember the fourth round last year where after having a three nil lead, the reds had to hold on to a 3-2 victory over Portsmouth. That was never going to happen. Manager Paul McGuinness would have ensured that. The only downside was Jack Barmby coming off injured late on. Let’s hope it’s not serious. Now we look forward to frying the bigger fish in later rounds and the first team’s away tie at Villa tomorrow. Come on you REDS!
Man of the Match: He may have only played 65 minutes, but Adnan Januzaj was definitely the most impressive in my eyes. His composure and technical skills on the ball shone above his opponents and helped control the midfield battle. The deep lying position he occupied and quality of passing similar to Luka Modric, but its early days yet.
United: Jacob; Weir, Blackett, McCullough, Ekangamene; Daehli, Rudge (Hendrie 53), Januzaj (Love 66), Barmby; Lawrence (Byrne 58), van Velzen. Subs: Coll, Dalley.