By Bryan Waters.
United’s opener came after just six minutes. Good work from Jack Barmby down the right set through James Weir. He was not favourite to reach the ball, but battled and his pull back was rewarded with a simple finish from young Norwegian attacking midfielder Mats Daehli, who celebrates his 18th birthday today. Daehli was the heart of everything good for United in the first half and despite limited opportunities in the opening 45 minutes, it was a decent game at Carrington.
The first half saw several half chances for the home team and Bolton rarely threatened with Ben Pearson mopping up in front of the backline, as he has done so often this season. United failed to get Barmby and Sam Byrne into the game with regularity and Daehli’s hard work and outrageously quick feet could not provide an end product to the two forwards.
Bolton grew into the game in the second half, capitalising on a quick freekick opportunity to set through Tom Youngs. The striker took the ball down well, but under pressure from United defender Declan Dalley, he could only blaze over the bar. Bolton had another chance immediately after with Elliott Newby, who ran a long way at the defence before curling a left-footed strike wide of the mark.
It didn’t take long after those chances to create an equaliser. Bolton right back Jordan Hendrie whipped the ball to Youngs in the box, whose touch and strike stung the palms of Joel Pereira in the United goal. The rebound fell to Saul Hamer and the striker tucked the ball into an empty net to bring Wanderers back on level terms.
Almost immediately after, United had a chance to retake the lead. Weir slipped the ball to Sam Byrne just inside the box and his strike clattered off the post back to central defender Ryan McConnell. It looked easier to score, but he could not keep the shot down and it spooned over the crossbar.
With 15 minutes to go, United had another chance through Pearson. Daehli’s crossfield switch found Weir at the back post and his cut back fell to the central midfielder, but he could not keep his shot down. Daehli was instrumental all game and his quick turn gave him the extra yard to deliver the ball into the box. Byrne’s header was always rising, but the United pressure was beginning to tell.
Brilliant work from Byrne produced the winning goal. His trickery in the box gave him room to bend a left-footed curler towards goal and that was diverted into his own net by Bolton defender Sam Bailey to give United a hard-fought win and seal this local derby.
Man of the match: Mats Daehli – The 18 year old celebrated his birthday with a marvellous performance. Composed and skilful, the Norwegian grabbed a goal for himself too.
Manchester United U18s Starting XI: Pereira, Grimshaw, Dalley (A. Pereira 78), McConnell, Evans, Weir, Pearson, Rudge, Daehli, Barmby, Byrne. (Subs: Gollini, Willock, Harrop, Fletcher).
Bolton Wanderers U18s Starting XI: Sievers, Hendrie, Holding, Gibson, Nolan, Newby (Knight 78), Bailey, Wolstenholme, Walker, Hamer, Youngs (Subs: Campbell, Thomas, Abbotts, Kennedy)
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