By R. Nugent.
A pulsating league match in bitter and blustery conditions in front of Sir Alex and many Manchester United stars resulted in a fantastic three all draw at Carrington.
Bolton made a blistering start to the game that seemed to have stunned their Manchester counterparts. Their quick one and two touch movement made it very difficult for United to get near them and yes this was all in the first 30 seconds of the match, because unfortunately what happened next was certainly not planned by the Reds, when a Bolton attacker was fouled by Jack Rudge resulting in a penalty being converted by James Caton.
The start came as a surprise to everyone due to Bolton’s poor season so far – winning only three of their first 14 matches this season.
United soon got hold of the game and started passing the ball around confidently, but without being able to create anything clear cut, until a wind assisted corner was cleared only as far as Rudge eight yards out, who duly slotted home to level up the match.
United retained the lion’s share of possession and this made it even more shocking when six minutes after their equaliser they conceded again. Some more lovely play from Wanderers as Clough put a perfectly weighted pass thru to Chris Lester who expertly finished, giving his side the lead – the Defending from Blackett and Ekangamene leaving a lot to be desired during that incident.
Bolton continued to hassle and put pressure on the Reds, leaving them with most of the possession but with little or no space to create anything although the movements from some of the teams attacking players may have been questionable, but a shot from Daehli United’s best player on the day almost snatched another equaliser, only to devastatingly hit the crossbar.
Five minutes later Bolton almost steered further, Clough being involved again, lining up a shot that would no doubt have been scored only for a magnificent challenge by Daehli, to keep his side in the game.
United continued to play their good pass and move football and were rewarded on the stroke of half time when a beautiful cross from Hendrie was met by Sam Byrne head to make it 2-2.
Man United began the second half as the ended the first, with continued possession, except this time there was no goal to reward them. Gyliano van Velzen came incredibly close however after his shot from the edge of the area was deflected, and seriously troubled Fielding in the Bolton nets, who struggled to keep the ball out.
And with both teams going at each other it wasn’t a surprise that when United were unable to take the lead, the away side were, but with a massive help from the blustery conditions and unfortunately Liam Jacob’s handling. Glenn Matthews floated a quite harmless free kick into the United box, only for it to be misjudged by Jacob, who palmed the ball into his own net, instead the intended area of over the bar, thus making it 3-2 to Bolton.
Unlike the senior side however, the U18’s provided a positive response to going behind and began an onslaught on the Bolton goal. An onslaught that was very measured however.
Precise passing and patience, a trait that has benefited some of Europe’s elite. Donald Love and Kenji Gorre coming on to replace Jack Rudge and Jack Barmby soon after. Both replacements playing their part it must be said.
United’s ambition was rewarded when Love whipped in a dangerous ball on the 82nd minute to allow Luke Hendrie to convert for his first goal of the season. A deserved goal not only for the young Reds, but for Hendrie too, who had been fantastic all game, firstly at right back and then in the middle of midfield.
Both sides, although quite tired went at each other desperate for all three points, although with little clear cut chances at all. The best of the lot came to Gorre who found space in the box, with quick feet but his shot just went over the bar and the game ended honours even. A fair reflection of the day’s work from both teams. The spirit to equalise three times epitomising a Manchester United team. And if Sir Alex watched in anticipation of entertainment, he certainly got it, although it’s never as simple as that for The Boss.
Man of the Match: Mats Daehli: This boy really does seem to have talent and was involved in basically everything that the Red did right today. His work varying from attack to the defence, although predominantly in attack. Mats was unlucky not to score in the first half with a fabulous effort, but kept everything ticking along throughout. One for the future? I sincerely hope so.
Manchester United: Jacob; Hendrie, Blackett, McCullough, Ekangamene; Barmby (Gorre 79), Rudge (Love 73), Daehli, Januzaj, van Velzen; Byrne. Subs not used: Rowley, Sutherland, Wilkinson.
Check the latest U18s statistics here.