Manchester United U18’s ran out comfortable 5-0 winners against their Cardiff City counterparts in blustery raining conditions at Carrington. With Rio Ferdinand, Bebé, Anderson and (a shadow boxing) Gabriel Obertan in attendance, goals came from Sean McGinty, Michele Fornasier, Tom Lawrence (penalty), John Cofie and Jack Barmby (penalty).
United began on the front foot with efforts from Cofie and Jesse Lingard. United were rewarded for their early domination when McGinty opened the scoring in the 19th minute, adding to his goal in the 3-2 win against Chelsea the previous weekend. Cardiff City failed to clear a low corner from Larnell Cole at the near post as the attempted clearance was mishit/scuffed. The ball ballooned up in the air and was picked up by an alert Lawrence. He drove to the byline and crossed with his right foot for McGinty to tap in from two yards out.
United remained on the front foot with Captain Tom Thorpe coming close with a free kick and superb link up play between Cofie and Cole created a chance for the impressive Ryan Tunnicliffe. United eventually added a second in the 24th minute with Fornasier grabbing the goal. Another Cole corner causing problems as the Cardiff goalkeeper could only palm the ball up into the air, allowing the young Italian to head home.
After conceding the second goal Cardiff began to look ragged – sloppy passing from defence creating several chances for United to add to their lead. Jarvis was Cardiff’s only player to offer on the attacking front, turning McGinty and Thorpe on one or two occasions leading to a couple of long range shots. The first half ended with the score line 2-0.
The second half started in awful conditions – the rain pouring down. United created their first opportunity five minutes into the half after a clever pass from Lawrence put Tunnicliffe one on one with Cardiff’s goalkeeper. Tunnicliffe failed in his attempts to chip the goalkeeper, but let rip at his team mates for offering a lack of support in a central position. The third goal soon came (55th minute) when the referee correctly awarded a penalty for a foul on Lawrence. Etzaz Hussain chipped a long pass forward (the ball holding up in the wind) – Lawrence showing superb control pulled the ball down into his path leading to a rugby tackle from Cardiff’s goalkeeper (Arsène Wenger eat your heart out). Lawrence coolly slotted the penalty, scoring his first league goal for the U18s.
Five minutes later United scored a fourth thanks to a smart finish by Cofie. Tunnicliffe was the creator – he picked the ball up deep in his own half and went on a 60-70 yard run and fed an inch perfect through ball for Cofie to a finish in the manner we’ve seen all pre-season.
United made a host of changes during the next ten minutes. After picking up an elbow injury Thorpe was replace by Luke Giverin, with Ezekiel Fryers (showing good pace when required) switching to central defence. Lingard playing in the hole behind Cofie started brightly, but faded and was replaced by Charni Ekangamene. Ekangamene played left midfield with Lawrence playing behind Cofie. Cole was replaced by Jack Barmby (son of Nicky). Cole impressed with his touch and dribbling ability.
Lawrence came close to adding a second when a header shaved the post. McGinty found Ekangamene with an excellent pass – he passed to an overlapping Giverin who crossed for Lawrence to come close. Lawrence was involved again when he sprung the offside trap and laid back a pass for Barmby, who hit the cross bar from the edge of Cardiff’s penalty area.
With the final whistle approaching United scored their fifth and final goal via the penalty spot. McGinty started the move with a good tackle inside his own half; he then baffled a Cardiff player with a body swerve and punted a long pass forward for Cofie to run on to. Cofie picked up the ball on the right hand side of Cardiff’s penalty area – he then ensued to have a game of Twister with a Cardiff player and the referee correctly awarded the second penalty of the game. Barmby took the penalty and finished into the bottom right corner. Cofie came close to adding a sixth in the dyeing minutes.
Tunnicliffe was impressive – man of the match in my opinion. He was dominant, strong in the tackle and made several surging runs at the heart of Cardiff’s defence.
United starting XI: Johnstone; Fornasier, Fryers, Thorpe, McGinty; Hussain, Cole, Tunnicliffe, Lawrence; Lingard, Cofie.
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