U18s: Swansea City 1 Manchester United 5
By Barry McEvoy.
Swansea will feel that the score-line flattered Manchester United somewhat after their 5th round FA Youth Cup encounter at the Liberty Stadium. Despite not dominating for long spells, United ran out 5-1 winners in front on the crowd of 4,080. First half goals from Jack Barmby, Gyliano Van Velzen and Sam Byrne left the United team gleaming going in at half-time. Van Velzen made it a brace at the start of the second half before James Loveridge scored for the Welsh side to make it 4-1. Tyler Blackett then scored in the dying moments to seal the win for United.
The opening forty minutes of the game were closely contested, with United perhaps shading it. Barmby was a continuous threat down the right hand side for the Reds and had a few decent opportunities when he cut in from the wing, but none were of real threat to the Swansea goals. United’s first clear chance on goal fell to Luke Hendrie after James Weir did excellently on the right-wing to set him up, but he could only force an excellent save from the Jacks goalkeeper.
United went 1-0 ahead when a long ball from the back by Cypriot Nicolas Ioannou caused confusion in the Swansea defence, allowing Barmby to take advantage and score a deserved goal. Van Velzen had the ball in the Swansea net before they even had a chance to re-organise as another ball from the United defence caused problems as Mats Daehli took it under control and crossed it for the Dutchman to slot it past the ‘keeper. As Swansea were still licking their wounds from going 2-0 down United capitalised on the pressure and scored a third, this time from Byrne. Some nice play on the edge of the area between Barmby and Van Velzen created some space for Barmby to have a shot, but he miscued it and it hit off Byrne’s heel, luckily it bounced up nicely for Byrne to finish it.
The second half started with great pace as Loveridge struck just wide after a good break from the kick-off for Swansea. Excellent play from Weir on the right again set up a good opportunity for United again, this time to Van Velzen who made no mistake in scoring him second on the night and United’s fourth. Some dodgy defending and persistent attacking led to Swansea’s goal. Good wing play down the right hand side set up Loveridge, but he fluffed his chance, only to have another one seconds later after a weak header from Blackett and that time he made sure to score it. It was a bit of a wakeup call for the United side, if they needed it.
After an exciting start the second half fizzled out into a midfield battle. Hendrie stood out for United as an influential force in the middle of the park, and Daehli was a thorn in Swansea’s side. United’s subs did themselves no harm, all three put themselves about the park and got quite involved in the action, James Wilson did well after he replaced Barmby early on, but it was always going to be tough for him to play to Barmby’s level. Josh Harrop tested the goalkeeper after he did well to work his way into the box from the right side, but his shot was collected by the Swans goalie. The fifth goal then came from an unexpected source in Blackett. Van Velzen won a free on the edge of the area and Blackett stepped up to smash it in with his left foot to make it five for United.
Overall it was a tough battle for McGuinness’ side, even if the score-line makes it look highly one-sided! The most impressive players for United were Barmby and Hendrie, with Van Velzen also playing an important role in the victory. United will play the winners of Tottenham Hotspur and Charlton Athletic in the quarter-final, to be played at Old Trafford.
Line up: Sutherland; Weir, Ekangamene, Ioannou, Blackett(c); Barmby(Wilson 50′), Rudge, Hendrie(Harrop 78′), Byrne(Gorre 80′), Van Velzen; Daehli.
Subs: Wilkinson, Jacob, Wilson(50′), Gorre(80′), Harrop(78′).
Check the latest Manchester United U18s statistics here.