Barclays Premier Reserve League
Moss Lane, 13 January 2011
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Magnus Eikrem seeking pastures new, Manchester United reserves were thankful for their Norwegian compatriot Joshua King for providing the sole goal in a 1-0 victory over local rivals Bolton Wanderers.
In his first game in charge Warren Joyce opted for a 4-4-2 formation featuring the returning John O’Shea (his first reserve game since 21 February 2006), Wes Brown, Corry Evans and Joshua King. After recent comments by Sir Alex Ferguson Bébé was indeed selected as a striker with Gabriel Obertan his partner.
The first thirty minutes was fairly even, with both teams enjoying possession and chances to open the scoring. Obertan utilised his pace and trickery to create two opportunities – testing goalkeeper Jay Lynch at the near post early on and blasting over moments later after a couple of step-overs. Sandwiched in-between Tom Eaves found space inside United’s penalty area, but could only direct his header into the hands of Conor Devlin and Wanderers leading goal scorer Adam Blackman fired narrowly wide following a mazy run from left winger Temitope Obadeyi.
On the thirty minute mark United began to dominate, with the lively King heavily involved. In a period where United created several opportunities Bébé was the first to come close. The summer recruit latched onto an Evans pass and pipped the on-rushing Lynch to the ball, down the left wing and with Bolton players rushing to protect their open goal, Bébé opted for power rather than look for a team mate and hit his effort narrowly over the crossbar. King was soon in on the act; chasing onto a through ball (two Bolton players were allowed a three yard head start, yet he comfortably eased in front of the pair highlighting his blistering pace) and from a tight angle brought a fine save from Lynch. A minute later, King found himself unmarked on the edge of Bolton’s penalty area, but his side footed effort was tame and trickled into the grasp of Lynch. On 41 minutes King was not to be denied. Evans with a clever pass in-between central defender and rightback released Joe Dudgeon on the left wing; Dudgeon whipped in a low cross and found the young Norwegian inside the penalty area, who instantly hit a crisp shot defeating the sprawling Lynch, who was perhaps unsighted as the strike had gone through the legs of defender Tom Eckersley. Fabio came close with two further chances as the first half came to a close.
United continued to dominate during the early stages of the second half with Fabio and Obertan bringing fine saves from Lynch, especially Fabio’s close range effort. While the score remained only 1-0, Bolton still fancied their chances and United were given a warning when Obadeyi hit a powerful long range shot that dipped marginally wide. Not deterred by the effort United pushed forward in search of the killer second goal. Bébé brought another fine save from the heroic Lynch and he was quickly on his feet to bravely deny Fabio following up on the rebound. The match had become United v Lynch; in total Joyce’s team had 26 efforts on goal and at one point Lynch had made 15 saves.
The hour mark brought a host of substitute changes, including the injured Bébé, who picked up a knock following a challenge by Michael O’Halloran. Bébé enjoyed a decent game; there are steady signs his touch and control are improving. As a result of the changes the game lost flow, became scrappy and petered out. Liam Irwin (son of Denis) had a rare opportunity for the visitors late on, but nothing else to write home about. United’s defence having little to worry about.
With save after save Lynch was easily man of the match.
Team: Devlin; O’Shea (Brady, 60 mins), W Brown, Wootton, Dudgeon; Fabio, C Evans, Norwood, King; Bebe (Vermijl 65), Obertan.