Date: 10 January 2011
Venue: Moss Lane, Altrincham
Kick Off: 7pm
Manchester United U18s secured a place in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup with a 3-2 victory over Portsmouth, with goals coming from Paul Pogba, Will Keane and an unfortunate own goal from Pompey goalkeeper Tom Fry.
Paul McGuinness was allowed the luxury of selecting a strong team including the likes of Ryan Tunnicliffe, Will Keane and Pogba all featuring for the reserve team at some point during the season. As a consequence United started the brighter of the teams with early opportunities falling for John Cofie, Keane and Tunnicliffe within the first ten minutes. However, it was Portsmouth that came closest to opening the scoring when midfielder Billy Tsovolos narrowly fired over from close range after good play on the wing from Lewis Stockford. Tsovolos perhaps leant back on his shot causing his attempt to sail over the crossbar. Moments later Stockford had his own opportunity when his deflected shot had goalkeeper Sam Johnstone scrambling, but United were lucky as the effort looped marginally wide.
After a positive 5-10 minute period for Portsmouth, United picked up the pace leading to the first major talking point. From a Tunnicliffe through ball Cofie used his pace and power to nip in front of Dan Bennett. Inside the penalty area Bennett desperately lunged at the striker, but in his attempts he tackled the man rather than the ball. The referee awarded a corner when the incident was a clear penalty in my opinion. Frustrated, Cofie was booked for his reaction towards the referee.
On 28 minutes United’s dominance was rewarded with Pogba scoring a stunning goal. Moments earlier the midfielder had Fry sprawling with an effort, but this time Pogba was not to be denied. On the half way line Tunnicliffe picked up possession and fed a short pass to Keane, who in turn ran at the heart of Pompey’s defence. His shot was blocked by Bennett, but the rebound fell to the feet of Larnell Cole who popped a pass off to Cofie. The striker laid off a simple pass for Pogba to curl a 25 yard shot into the top left hand corner. The goal was simply stunning and would have impressed the on watching Sir Alex Ferguson. United created one further chance before half time to stretch their lead after a sublime Pogba pass found the chest of Cofie. Unfortunately Cofie was unable to connect cleanly with his effort. 1-0 United at half time.
An Enjoyable first half, which United dominated. Portsmouth enjoyed their moments. A Magnificent goal from Pogba, a real screamer. None of United’s players particular stood out, I Really like the look of Tyler Blackett. In his reserve team debut against Newcastle United we witnessed his ability to run with ball, during the first half he demonstrated his defensive qualities with a couple of meaty challenges. He looks a good’un.
The second half started as the first half ended – United on top and enjoying plenty of possession. Keane began brightly with a couple of early opportunities while Pogba was pulling the strings in central midfield. The youngster highlighted his close control technique with good feet to escape the attentions of would be tacklers and creating space for himself in the process. From the left byline he fired in a low cross, which Fray mishandled creating a golden opportunity for Keane, but his effort was somehow blocked. The incident was the first of a torrid spell for the young keeper, who flapped at several crosses. Unfortunately for the young keeper he flapped one too many times when on 58 minutes he punched into his own goal when relatively unchallenged from a Cole corner. Two minutes later United scored again to give what you’d think a comfortable 3-0 score line… The rebound from a strong Tunnicliffe tackle landed at the feet of Keane. The Englishman fooled his marker with a clever turn and defeated Fray with a powerful left footed shot to net his sixth goal of the season for the U18’s.
United continued to press forward in search of further goals and were perhaps unlucky to have two ruled out for offside with Keane the unfortunate player on both occasions. On 73 minutes Keane earned his side a penalty when he instantly controlled a fierce Tunnicliffe pass inside Portsmouth penalty area. A trick later and he was bundled over. Surprisingly Gyliano van Velzen stepped up and coolly slotted home into the centre of goal, however, Cole had clearly encroached resulting in a retake. Yep, you guessed, Fray saved what was a poor penalty from the winger.
On 83 minutes with the game drifting and United looking relatively comfortable when out of the blue striker Ryan Williams showed quick feet to burst past a couple of defenders and finished by sliding the ball past Johnstone. Nothing more than the Australian deserved for his endeavour. Encouraged by the goal Portsmouth started to enjoy a greater share of possession and as a consequence looked more threatening than at any point previously. United had looked to weather the storm until the final minute of normal time when Johnstone repaid Portsmouth the favour with an equally poor goalkeeping mistake as his opposite number had done earlier in the game he allowed a tame shot from Williams to pass him at the near post. United looked nervous for the final few minutes, but did enough. The U18’s now face West Ham United at Upton Park in the fourth round on Wednesday, 19 January.
Team: Johnstone; M Keane (Lingard, 76 mins), Thorpe, Fornasier (Massacci, 76 mins), Blackett; Cole (Fryers, 76 mins), Pogba, Tunnicliffe, van Velzen, W Keane; Cofie