Barclays Premier League Under-18s
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Venue: J. Davidson Stadium
Date: Friday, 5 December 2014
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Manchester United under-18s held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at Altrincham’s J. Davidson Stadium.
A fair result in the circumstances, as Paul McGuinness’ side kept their third clean sheet on the bounce.
Chances were few and far between, as both sides cancelled each other out in the opening 45.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson spread the ball out to the left-hand touchline and continued his overlapping run, which acted as a decoy for Zak Dearnley, who cut inside and unleashed a wild shot that flew over the bar.
A half-hearted penalty appeal came after Corey Whelan lunged in on Joe Riley, but referee Tony Ball made the correct call in awarding United a corner and not a spot kick.
Both keepers had little to do but Dean Henderson had to be on guard as he cleared left-back Sam Hart’s cross away with his fists, but only as far as Australian Jake Brimmer, whose first time effort from 20 yards also flew over the bar.
A similar chance fell to Charlie Scott at the other end, after Hart had cleared the initial cross from Dearnley, but leaning back, Scott’s shot ended up closer to the corner flag than it did the goal.
A much livelier second half saw Sergi Canos with two excellent crosses from the right, the first of which went across the face of goal with no-one on the end of it, before his second cross was parried by Henderson before United could clear their lines.
This seemed to spark the home side into life, as some neat play ended with Timothy Fosu-Mensah teeing up Devonte Redmond, who set himself but fired his shot over the bar.
The best chance of the game then fell into the path of Callum Gribbin, but his first time effort from Dearnley’s pass from the left-hand side of the box was saved behind by Andrew Firth.
A swift counter-attack then saw Riley thread a superb ball through to Dearnley, but he could only shoot straight at the onrushing Firth.
Ryan Kent beat right-back Tyler Reid to produce a neat post shot that was expertly tipped over by Henderson.
Back came the hosts, with Gribbin’s slotted pass met by Scott, who took the ball round the goalkeeper, but overran it in the process, as the ball went out for a goal-kick.
Substitute Ovie Ejaria attempted to win the game for the visitors on his own, with his deflected shot off Fosu-Mensah falling just wide, two minutes before his dribble into the box ended with his shot falling just wide once more.
Captain Pedro Chirivella ought to have done better, but credit to Henderson for making a point blank save to deny the Spaniard.
One final chance of the match came in stoppage time, and it fell to Marcus Rashford, whose shot went wide without troubling, when Riley was free to the right, as an error of judgment cost United the chance to steal all three points.
Chances aplenty after the break, after a dismal first half, with honours even in the North-West.
Three clean sheets on the spin for Henderson and United, with four in six an equally pleasing stat.
The FA Youth Cup is next on the agenda for this group of players, where Bury will be the visitors to Old Trafford a week on Tuesday, in the third round tie, as United head into that game in particularly good form, as they aim to book their place in the fourth round, on the back of a three match unbeaten streak in the league.
Manchester United: Henderson; Reid, Tuanzebe, Fosu-Mensah, Borthwick-Jackson; Scott, Redmond; Riley, Gribbin, Dearnley (Hamilton 67); Rashford.
Subs: Warren, Byrne, Hamilton, Rathbone, Johnson.
Manager: Paul McGuinness
Liverpool: Firth; Travis, Whelan, Polgar (Lewis 46), Hart; Brimmer, Chirivella; Canos, Wilson, Kent; Marsh (Ejaria 68).
Subs: Ejaria, Wheeler, Nicholas, Lewis.
Manager: Neil Critchley