Manchester United booked their place in the FA Youth Cup fourth round with a 1-0 victory over Bury at Old Trafford.
Zak Dearnley’s goal in the 12th minute secured the win for the Red Devils, but the home side squandered many a chance to kill the game off earlier, whilst looked to be holding on for periods during the game.
A fast start from United began right from the kick-off, with Marcus Rashford sprinting forward and winning a free-kick in dangerous territory.
Joe Riley swung it in, only for Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to fail to connect, with the ball flying over his head and into the grateful arms of Jack Ruddy.
A route one kick from Dean Henderson saw Rashford latch onto the loose ball, beating Bury captain Marcus Poscha, and his shot hit the onrushing Ruddy to take the pace off the ball despite it still heading goalwards, but it allowed Matty Foulds to clear the danger.
Rashford then hit the side netting with a shot, before teeing up Riley, who curled the ball just over the frame of the goal.
A minute later and United broke the deadlock. A super through ball from Timothy Fosu-Mensah was met by Dearnley, whose first time effort curled past Ruddy at his near post, to give the hosts a deserved lead (Vine).
Fosu-Mensah himself saw his shot saved before Rashford’s smashed effort from a tight angle was parried clear.
A rare Bury attack saw Poscha head wide without troubling before Fosu-Mensah took a wild swing at the ball, seeing his shot fly high and wide.
A quiet spell in the half was ended when RoShaun Williams fed Riley, who took a touch before shooting, only for Ruddy to save with his feet, taking a leaf out of our very own David de Gea’s book.
Déjà vu almost, as Dearnley saw his shot saved by the feet of Ruddy once more, as United headed into the break a goal up.
Rashford should have made it 2-0 soon after the break but he headed over from Tyler Reid’s cross.
Callum Gribbin then skimmed the bar with a curling effort from the edge of the box.
Henry Wordingham then saw his snap shot held by Henderson.
Borthwick-Jackson played in Rashford, whose initial shot was well blocked by Poscha, but the rebound from United’s number nine fell wide.
A give and go between Reid and Riley ended with the former having his shot saved behind for a corner.
At the other end, Foulds’ shot was deflected behind before Poscha’s goalbound strike was blocked by Riley.
A good save from Ruddy denied Devonte Redmond before Henderson was forced into his first real save of the night, tipping Scott Burgess’ long range shot over the bar.
Riley had a shot saved, Borthwick-Jackson shot wide from distance and Reid was denied one-on-one, as United failed to close the game out.
This allowed Khalid Mohammed two golden chances to equalise, but his first shot was held, and his second moments later flew over the bar.
Substitute Oliver Rathbone forced another save from Ruddy before Redmond scuffed an attempt wide of the goal.
Anthony Dudley also fluffed his lines, as Bury looked to have missed out on a chance to claw their way back into the tie.
One final chance fell to Riley, who beat a number of white shirts, only for his shot towards the near post to be turned behind for a corner.
United ran the clock down, and booked their place in the next round once Lee Johnson blew for full time.
A game filled with chances galore, but Paul McGuinness will be left to rue many opportunities to put this game to bed, although he can be pleased that his side ended 2014 with a win, a fourth clean sheet in succession and a fourth round tie at home to Hull City to look forward to.
Manchester United: Henderson; Reid, Tuanzebe, Williams, Borthwick-Jackson; Fosu-Mensah, Redmond; Riley, Gribbin (Scott 82), Dearnley (Rathbone 83); Rashford.
Subs: Scott, Dorrington, Hamilton, Rathbone, Warren.
Manager: Paul McGuinness
Bury: Ruddy; Potter, Poscha, Foulds, Gibson; Wordingham, Bourne, Burgess, Durham (Shaw 72); Mohammed (Crosdale 83), Dudley.
Subs: Kimmins, McCarthy, Crosdale, Shaw, Williams.