Barclays Premier League Under-18s
Manchester United vs. Stoke City
Venue: AON Training Complex
Date: Tuesday, 29 April 2014
Kick-off: 14:00 BST
Manchester United U18s recorded a 3-2 victory over bottom of the pile Stoke City in their penultimate game of the season, and their last one at home.
The AON Training Complex saw a thrilling game that saw Stoke come back from 2-0 down at half-time before United bagged the winner in the final minute of normal time.
Marcus Rashford and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson put United in cruise control, before second half goals from Peter Makrillos and Liam Edwards looked to have salvaged the Potters a point, before an unlikely hero in Charlie Scott grabbed the winner from Joe Riley’s corner in the 90th minute.
This victory epitomises what United are all about in their never-say-die attitude, and the U18s followed their U21 counterparts in recording a 3-2 win in the last minute, just like last Thursday night when Warren Joyce’s side won at Reading.
The opening goal came about in bizarre fashion and after just one minute and 20 seconds.
A free-kick from Rashford on the corner of the left-hand side of the penalty area looked like being a routine catch for goalkeeper Dominic Kurasik, and although he did catch the ball, the officials ruled it to have crossed the line as it fell into the bewildered keeper’s hands.
United seemed buoyed by their 1-4 victory at Fulham at the weekend, and came out all guns blazing, as Demetri Mitchell then saw his drilled cross held comfortably after a slick passing move from the United youngsters.
Stoke began to come into the game, and had three decent chances to level the arrears.
In-from striker Tomi Adeloye fluffed his effort wide of the target after an excellent run from Yusuf Coban saw him play in the number nine, before Coban himself controlled the ball expertly with his chest from Lee Pickerill’s cross, only to see his effort blocked, before Makrillos cut in from the right-hand side, but his left-footed shot was comfortably held by debutant George Dorrington in the United goal.
Pickerill – who turned 18 today – could have had a perfect birthday present, only for his corner to sail onto the top of the net, before the impressive Makrillos saw his free-kick fall agonisingly wide of the left-hand post with Dorrington at full stretch.
Stoke, who had lost nine of their 15 away trips before today, were left ruing their missed chances as United doubled their lead with ten minutes of the half remaining.
Scott’s first time ball into the danger area was originally headed clear put Mitchell retrieved the loose ball on the right-hand side before cutting in and whipping a tasty ball which alluded Ro-Shaun Williams and bounced awkwardly in front of Kurasik, and his parry fell kindly to left-back Borthwick-Jackson for an easy tap-in.
Stoke tried to hit back with Pickerill’s cross coming off Jordan Thompson but hitting the bar and Johnville Renee-Pringle’s shot went wide, but trailed 2-0 at the interval.
Whatever John Perkins said to see his players at half-time had great effect as it seemed to work as Stoke bossed the half and eventually got back on level terms.
The deficit was halved when Makrillos, who deserved a goal, was rewarded with a fine finish with his weaker left foot after shifting onto his lesser side inside the box to give the visitors hope of an unlikely comeback.
Oliver Roberts, who was venturing forward a lot more than in the first half, saw his effort held, with Coban also seeing his shot held by 16-year-old Dorrington, whilst sandwiched in-between was a wild effort that flew over the bar by Adeloye.
That did nothing to prevent Stoke from further pressing as Adeloye’s weaker foot effort on his left side went wide before a fantastic fingertip save by Dorrington, after Derice Richards had played in Makrillos, saw the number eight denied a second of the game.
Yet Stoke were finally rewarded for their second half revival as Makrillos got himself an assist with a deep free-kick to the back post, which was dually nodded in by Edwards, who looked to have rescued something from this game when they were dead and buried at the break.
However, this sparked a United revival of their own, as their response would have certainly pleased Paul McGuiness, who was joined on the touchline by former United favourites Brian McClair and Clayton Blackmore.
Firstly, Riley saw his shot go over after being closed down by a desperate Stoke defence, before Mitchell’s tame dink was held when he had two men over to his left.
Stoke were left to feel aggrieved when Adeloye was brought down in the area by Williams, only for referee Simon Eagle to wave play on as United went up to the other end as Riley’s shot produced an exquisite save out of Kurasik, who seemed determined to keep the scores level.
The ever-involved Riley had yet another shot, but this time it was blocked by a stubborn and resolute Stoke backline, after a neat one-two move with Mitchell.
Riley must have been left feeling frustrated at failing to find the back of the net, but he turned provider as his corner from the right-hand side to the near post was volleyed in first time by right-back Scott, albeit finding its way through after a deflection off Makrillos, who did not deserve that after the performance he put in.
But football is a cruel game, and after Stoke had got back to 2-2 they sat back and seemed content with a point despite having the momentum to go on and win the game.
The final chance of the match fell to Adeloye whose header fell inches wide of the right-hand post, leaving Dorrington a relieved man after he failed to deal with the cross.
United showed great character to hit back after seemingly throwing away their two goal cushion, but they ended their final home game with three points in what was a cracking encounter.
Stoke remain bottom of the northern group, and will ultimately finish there, as they are five points adrift of Blackburn Rovers, with a home game against Reading their only remaining game.
As for the Reds, they remain slap bang in the middle of the same section in sixth from 11 teams, but are now level on points with Sunderland with a game in hand, two behind Newcastle in fourth and two behind Liverpool in third, with a trip to Everton next week their final fixture of the season.
Manchester United: Dorrington; Scott, Williams, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson; Redmond (Kehinde 46), Thomspon; Riley, Rashford (Dearnley 49), Mitchell; Croskery.
Subs: Rathbone, Henderson, Kehinde, Reid, Dearnley.
Manager: Paul McGuinness
Stoke City: Kurasik; Banks, Sanders, Edwards, Pickerill; Coban, Makriolls, Roberts, Renee-Pringle; Richards (Weston Hayles), Adeloye.
Subs: Douglas, Vassel, Weston-Hayles, Brierley, Shepherd.