Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Norwich City vs. Manchester United
Venue: Carrow Road
Date: Friday, 9 January 2015
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Manchester United under-21s were held to a 1-1 draw away at Norwich City in the opening game of the New Year.
Carrow Road was the venue, as the visitors came from behind to equalise via Joshua Harrop’s screamer from range, as an ill-tempered affair ended with a share of the spoils for both sides.
A spell of early dominant possession from United was abruptly ended by a swift Norwich counter-attack, which ended in Sam Kelly’s through ball releasing Jamar Loza, but he failed to find the target from close range as Ben Amos attempted to smother the onrushing striker.
Jesse Lingard, making his first appearance since suffering an injury on the opening day of the first team season against Swansea City, set up Will Keane, but his tame effort was held.
Lingard himself had a glorious chance, volleying a deep cross to the back post from Andreas Pereira, only for Remi Matthews to save behind.
Captain Conor McGrandles cross for the home side was expertly controlled by Cameron McGeehan, but his shot fell just over the bar.
Norwich did take the lead however, as Ray Grant’s free-kick was headed home by Adel Gafaiti in the 26th minute.
United responded with Nick Powell – back from his loan spell at Leicester City – with a dipping shot that was held, whilst Grant had a similar effort from distance at the other end which was also held.
McGeehan pulled his shot wide for the hosts, as they went in at half-time 1-0 in front.
The visitors began the second half on the front foot, with a James Weir and Keane one-two ending with the former curling an effort just wide of the post.
Cameron Norman’s cross should’ve led to a Norwich second, but McGrandles somehow missed the target with his header.
They were left to rue that missed opportunity as Harrop’s long range strike went in off the post to draw United level less than 10 minutes after the break (Vine).
A flashing shot from range from Loza flew just over the watchful Amos and out of play.
Weir’s through ball found Lingard, albeit at a tight angle, and the angle told, as his shot went wide, before being withdrawn with cramp, but an important 78 minutes all the same for the youngster on his return from injury.
Kelly had his shot blocked by Saidy Janko as the goal gaped, before McGeehan’s shot from distance was initially spilled by Amos before he collected the loose ball.
Powell’s shot was deflected and fell safely into the hands of Matthews before a golden chance went begging for United.
Into three minutes of four added on, and Weir’s slotted through ball found Keane, probably the best player on the pitch you would want in this position, yet he dinked the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper and over the bar with his less favoured left foot.
Potentially two points dropped for United, but after being a goal down at half-time and playing a Norwich side who had only dropped two points at home all season beforehand, a point can be seen as a good result.
The U21s thus began 2015 like the first team, with a 1-1 draw away from home after being a goal down, as Warren Joyce can be pleased with the performance considering the makeshift team on show.
Manchester United: Amos; Janko, Love, Vermijl, Grimshaw; Lingard (A. Fletcher 78), Weir, Harrop, A. Pereira (C. Evans 67); Powell, W. Keane.
Subs: A. Fletcher, O’Hara, C. Evans, Willock.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Norwich City: Matthews; Hall-Johnson (Byrne-Hewitt 88), McFadden, Gafaiti, Efete; Grant (Cantwell 81); Norman (Ramsay 81), McGeehan, McGrandles, Kelly; Loza.
Subs: Ramsay, Oxborough, Cantwell, Eaton-Collins, Byrne-Hewitt.