Reserves: Manchester United 5 Newcastle United 1

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Competition: Barclays Premier Reserve League
Date: 16th December, 2010
Venue: Moss Lane
Kick Off: 7pm

In his final game as reserve team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the perfect send off as his team romped to a 5-1 victory against league leaders Newcastle United.

On a cold frosty night in Altrincham the home team started brightly, with the now seemingly departing Magnus Eikrem heavily involved. The first real opportunity of note fell to Will Keane when Eikrem attempted to feed a through ball to the young striker. Goalkeeper Ole Söderberg was quick off his line to prevent an early opportunity for the striker. Moments later a deflected Eikrem pass fell into the path of Marnick Vermijl. The Belgian (playing as a winger) opened his body and fired narrowly wide.

Manchester United’s early domination soon paid off when on 15 minutes Ravel Morrison opened the scoring. A long raking pass from Oliver Norwood found Morrison on the left wing. A couple of step overs later, the young Mancunian crossed for only Newcaslte’s Newton to poorly head clear. In a 50-50 challenge, Morrison nipped in front of Richardson and from the edge of the penalty area he struck a low shot into the bottom left hand corner. An inch perfect finish and Morrison’s first goal at reserve team level.

After taking the lead United continued to push forward with ever impressive Eikrem influential once again. From a Newcastle attack the ball broke to the Norwegian who immediately spread a 30 yard plus pass for Keane to latch onto. The striker eventually broke Newcastle’s offside trap after previously being caught offside on countless occasions . Further good goalkeeping from Söderberg denied Keane as he once again rushed off his line to clear danger. As the first half progressed the match turned into a decent game as Newcastle started to enjoy a greater share of possession, but without really threatening. Ole’s men remained the dominant team.

On the stroke of half time United doubled their lead with Keane grabbing his first goal of the night. Inside Newcastle’s penalty area   Keane’s effort on goal was blocked. From the resultant( Eikrem) corner, Vermijl flicked on his header at the near post and an unmarked Keane side footed home from six yards out.

The second half started with Vermijl and Richardson sharing early efforts.  On 50 minutes, reserve team debutant Tyler Blackett earned a penalty when he was fouled after a driving run into Newcastle’s penalty area.  From the spot kick Söderberg made a comfortable save from a poor Keane penalty. Two minutes later Newcastle earned themselves a foot hold in the match when a Richardson shot deflected off Blackett, wrong footing Ben Amos in the process, Amos was left stranded as the ball trickled into the goal.

From the restart Keane had a glorious opportunity to restore the two goal lead. After finally gathering control of the ball, the striker found himself one v one with Söderberg. The Swedish goalkeeper yet again came out on top in his personal dual with the English forward. Phil Airey then brought a smart save from Amos, highlighting his  potential. When he was named as third choice goalkeeper I had concerns. However after his showing he is a goalkeeper of real promise. He made two or three good saves spreading his body to block shots, claimed crosses with ease and punched the ball with distance. He was also loud and vocal shouting at defenders. Even towards the latter stages of the game when United were in full command he barked orders to his defence to fllow runners from midfield. He shares similar elements with Schmeichel: height; build, good shot stoppers, commanding the goal aree . Comparing him to Schmeichel is a big call and perhaps unfair on Amos, but I witnessed a goalkeeper of real potential. A loan move is required to continue his development, perhaps next season or even in January with the arrival of Lindegaard.

On 67 minutes Morrison was the man to restore the two goal lead. He picked up a pass from Michael Keane and on the edge of Newcastle’s penalty area unleashed a powerful shot that even the impressive Söderberg could not stop. At 2-1, the game was evenly balanced with both teams sharing possession, until Morrison worked his magic. He now imposed himself on the game. He, Norwood and Eikrem appeared to be on same wavelength, popping passes and finding space for each other, but Morrison was the star of the show. Utterly brilliant and a different class.

Four minutes later Ryan Tunnicliffe netted his second reserve team goal. Deep inside his own half Norwood body swerved a would be tackler and delivered an inch perfect pass into the path of Tunnicliffe. Through on goal the midfielder placed his effort past Söderberg much to the delight of his team mates.

During the final stages the match became very open with Newcastle looking for a respectable score line (Amos pulled off several fine saves) and Morrison made a real concerted effort to claim his hattrick, the 17 year old appeared almost desperate. He made surging runs. Found himself alone (after good work from Eikrem) with only the goalkeeper to beat, but narrowly shot wide. Then deep into injury time he latched onto a clever curved pass from Tunicliffe. Once again Söderberg stood in way. From a tight angle Morrison lobbed the Swede, unfortunately his effort appeared to be heading wide, but Keane was on hand to bundle the chipped attempt into the goal from only two yards out.

Final score line, 5-1. Blackett deserves a notable mention; he was outstanding on his debut.

Goodbye, Ole. Cheers for the many happy memories. Hopefully you will return at some point in the future.

Team: Amos; M Keane (McGinty 85 mins), R Brown, Dudgeon, Blackett (Van Velzen 79 mins); Vermijl, Norwood, Eikrem, Tunnicliffe, Morrison; W Keane.

Reserve Team Stats for 2010-11 season: Reserve Team Stats

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