Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Southampton vs. Manchester United
Venue: Staplewood Training Ground
Date: Monday, 1 December 2014
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Manchester United under-21s suffered a last gasp winner from Ryan Seager as he gave Southampton a 1-0 win down at Staplewood Training Ground.
A cruel blow for United, who can feel aggrieved at not being awarded a penalty in the 74th minute, as well as not taking away what would have been a deserved point from the game.
One positive for United is that Jonny Evans completed 90 minutes unscathed, in a quest to boost his match fitness ahead of a potential first team return very soon.
A fast paced first half but with very few chances, and it took until the 26th minute for a first attempt on goal, as Ryan Seager’s wild shot flew high over the bar for the hosts.
A second Seager shot flew over the bar once more without troubling, snatching at the chance after Donald Love’s cleared header.
United’s first real chance came after Andreas Pereira’s neat feet allowed him to surge into the box, and his cross found Will Keane, but he lost his balance on the turn, and his finish lacked power, as Paulo Gazzaniga held the ball with ease.
Into the second half and clever link-up play between James Weir and Keane allowed the latter to lay the ball off on a plate for Liam Grimshaw, but his disappointing first time effort was dragged well wide of the target.
Sam McQueen’s cross from the left-hand side caused United keeper Ben Amos all kinds of trouble, and he failed to claim the ball from the air which allowed Seager to loop a header goalwards, but Evans cleared the ball off the line, before Amos made amends for his error by saving Omar Rowe’s shot behind for a corner.
More link-up play from United’s front men saw Keane spread the ball out to Weir, who cut inside onto his favoured right foot, but his shot was comfortably held by Gazzaniga.
Saidy Janko conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position, and to his relief, Matt Targett could only clip the top of the crossbar from the resulting kick.
The moment of controversy then came with just over 15 minutes left to play.
Substitute Callum Evans played a forward pass into Weir, just inside the penalty area, and as he shielded the ball, the onrushing Jake Hesketh blatantly took out United’s number 11, only for the referee to wave play on, much to the dismay of the men in blue.
Ben Pearson’s diagonal ball over the top of the Saints defence found Keane, whose first touch was good, but he failed to make any clear contact as his shot, which trickled through to Gazzaniga.
Just a minute later and Amos was left stranded at the other end, watching on as Rowe’s left-footed curling effort looked like it was heading in, only for the ball to crash against the post, and fall into the grateful arms of Amos.
Pereira blazed a free-kick over the bar from close range as the game looked like heading for a stalemate.
However, a 90th minute mistake from Donald Love allowed Llloyd Isgrove and Hesketh to combine to set up Seager, who calmly slotted the ball underneath Amos, to give the hosts the three points.
Top spot remains United’s for now, but a disappointing result to digest.
United’s final fixture of 2014 at this level is away at neighbours City, when Warren Joyce’s side will hope to bounce back from this setback.
Manchester United: Amos; Janko, Love, J. Evans, Vermijl; Pearson, Grimshaw (C. Evans 54); A. Pereira, Rothwell, Weir; W. Keane
Subs: Willock, J. Pereira, A. fletcher, C. Evans, Tuanzebe.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Southampton: Gazzaniga; Flannagan, Mugabi, McCarthy, Targett; Reed, Kesketh; Isgrove, McQueen (Gape 74), Rowe, Seager (Sims 90+3).
Subs: Cook, Isted, Willard, Sims, Gape.