The U18s travelled to Firshill Crescent to face their Sheffield United counterparts on Saturday morning.
The home team started brightly – passing well, keeping hold of possession while United struggled to find a way into Sheffield United’s half. Big central defender Harry Maguire had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring from a corner when he was allowed a free header, but he directed the effort straight into the hands of goalkeeper Joe Coll. Moments later the impressive Coll made a further save as he denied The Blades leading goal scorer Jordan Slew from a tight angle.
Manchester United finally made their mark on the game in the 12th minute when Etzaz Hussain shrugged off one or two defenders, he fed a pass into the path of John Cofie and with quick feet (inside penalty area) he fired a low cross into the six yard box – unfortunately Jesse Lingard was unable to convert the opportunity as he missed the ball. As the half progressed Cofie’s influence grew and via a deflection had an effort hit the post with goalkeeper Long rooted to the spot – he looked the most likely for United. If Cofie continues his early season form he will surely feature on a regular basis for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reserve team – he is the standout player amongst his peers and requires testing at a higher level than U18’s.
As the first half progressed United started to enjoy a greater share of possession with Ryan Tunnicliffe increasingly involved. On 34 minutes the young United midfielder brought a stunning save from Long after a strong surging run. Soon after he gathered in a clearance from a cross, dribbled past one man and had his shot deflected marginally wide. United finished the half the stronger of the two with the home team dominating much of the first half.
Within a minute of the resumption United had opened the scoring thanks to an excellent goal from Larnell Cole. Inside The Blades half, Tunnicliffe chipped a forward pass for Lingard to chase – just outside the penalty area he was tackled from behind leading referee Mr. Chester no choice but to award a free kick. Cole stepped up and curled the free kick into the top right hand corner of the goal, Long had no chance.
Sheffield United responded positively – after good work down the left hand flank, Joe Ironside brought a brilliant save from Coll. From the resultant corner Alberto Massacci (making his first Manchester United appearance since January) cleared a headed effort off the goal line from the towering Maguire. Two minutes later the pressure told – Ironside equalised at the second attempt after his first effort was once again cleared off the line by Massacci, however the rebound fell to Ironside and on this occasion Massacci or Coll could do nothing to prevent The Blades striker from finding the back of the net. Slew provided the assist with a low cross into the six yard box.
After a host of changes (Tom Lawrence and Michele Fornasier replaced Charni Ekangamen and Massacci respectively), chances continued with Slew hitting the post and Cofie (via a header) bringing a fine save from Long after a clever one two involving Cole and Fornasier. On 77 minutes Tyler Blackett replaced Lingard as both teams opened up in search of a winning goal.
The match finished 1-1 – probably a fair result, with Sheffield United perhaps edging the game.
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