FA Youth Cup 3rd Round
Manchester United vs. Southampton
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Monday, 12 December 2016
Kick-off: 19:00 BST
Manchester United suffered an early exit of this season’s FA Youth Cup, losing 2-1 to Southampton despite taking the lead.
Off the bench, Tahith Chong bagged a great strike after the interval, only for Thomas O’Connor to cancel that out with a fine finish of his own.
With an extra half hour in the offing, Will Smallbone rewrote the script to grab a late winner in a remarkable turnaround.
It was a cagey opening to the tie, with nerves potentially taking its toll on the youngsters.
Playing in front of a crowd they’re not used to, on a stage such as Old Trafford, they could be forgiven for a lacklustre start.
One of the brighter talents on the pitch, Angel Gomes somehow blazed over from close range midway through the first half.
Centre-back Lee O’Connor saw a header strike the crossbar from a corner, as half-time arrived with the game goalless.
A much more open second period saw Jonathan Afolabi head over from Siph Mdlalose’s right-wing cross, as Callum Slattery’s shot deflected behind off Callum Gribbin.
Gribbin himself curled over, before the opening goal arrived for Kieran McKenna’s outfit.
Jake Kenyon’s cross was brought down by Chong, and on the turn he produced an immaculate finish into the top corner.
Failing to seal the fixture when they could, United were made to pay when O’Connor curled a finish into the far corner as the tie looked destined for extra time.
This wasn’t to be, as Smallbone’s dribble went unchallenged, before unleashing a strike which swerved past Illias Moutha-Sebtaoui.
It was nearly three when Jan Valery’s surging run ended with his shot turned away by the right boot of the keeper, as the Saints held on to the win.
They book their place into round four, where they will face Exeter City or Wigan Athletic.
Considering the respective league forms, United were overwhelming favourites, but this result proves that form goes out the window in knockout football.
The under-18s will hope to bounce back in their final game of 2016 away at West Bromwich Albion this coming Saturday.
Manchester United U18s: Moutha-Sebtaoui; Tanner, Warren, O’Connor, Kenyon (Burkart 89); Whelan, Hamilton; Buffonge (Chong 56), Gribbin (Boonen 77), Gomes; Bohui.
Manager: Kieran McKenna
Southampton U18s: Parkes; Valery, O’Driscoll, Klarer, Vokins, Rowthorn (Smallbone 75), O’Connor, Slattery, Mdlalose (Hale 72), Afolabi, Johnson.
Manager: Craig Fleming