Barclays Premier League Under-18s
Manchester United vs. Derby County
Venue: J. Davidson Stadium
Date: Friday, 21 August 2015
Kick-off: 19:00 BST
With kick-off delayed by 15 minutes due to the Derby team getting stuck in traffic, they’d have wished they’d been stuck for longer, as their initial comeback from 2-0 down was thrown away in the 87th minute thanks to Callum Gribbin’s second free-kick scored in as many games.
Ethan Hamilton and Zak Dearnley had given United their two goal cushion before half-time, before the two Alex’s, Babos and Cover, seemed to have snatched a point late on for the East Midlanders.
It was a fast start from both sides but the visitors mustered up the first chance as James Carvell teed up fellow winger Cameron Cresswell, but the latter’s shot fell over the bar.
United withstood the Derby pressure, and came back into the game, with Hamilton’s dangerous cross from the left falling to Dearnley at the back post, only for his shot with the outside of his foot to be blocked behind by Cover.
The resulting corner wasn’t dealt with, as Hamilton himself fired home the loose ball, with keeper Matt Yates without a chance of saving it, unable to see the ball through the melee of bodies.
A second corner less than five minutes later was won by triallist DJ Buffonge, who ran at the Rams defence and saw a shot blocked behind. Buffonge took the corner, and it was karate-kicked into the back of the net on the full by Dearnley.
A third corner nearly led to the third goal, as Marcus Rashford’s flick-on found Hamilton’s head, only for the ball to be cleared off the line.
Another header, this time from Dearnley heading into the ground after Rashford’s delightful cross took one bounce before being met, didn’t have the pace to beat Yates, as Kyron Stabana was able to bring the ball out from the back to ease the United onslaught.
Cresswell, who had boasted Derby’s only threat so far on the night, cut inside from the left, and curled a left-footed effort just wide of Oliver Byrne’s goal.
In the build-up to that move, Buffonge’s attempt at a cross-field ball led to him pulling a groin, and his evening was ended early, with Jake Kenyon on in his place, which was a shame, as Buffonge has looked lively during his trial period with the club.
Kenyon dragged a shot wide before Tosin Kehinde found Rashford, whose blistering pace allowed him to get a sight of goal, and his powerful effort was turned behind by Yates, as the first half, dominated by United, drew to a close moments later.
As the rain stopped during the interval, so did United it seemed after the restart, with a short corner routine catching the hosts sleeping, with Hamilton having to head Babos’ cross off the line, before Tom Mellors’ dipping effort rattled the bar from distance.
This was a catalyst to a wake-up call for United, as Tyrell Warren ventured forward from the back and found Kenyon, and the latter’s cross was met by Rashford, but he could only find the side netting.
Charlie Scott saw a speculative drive from range held by Yates, as Byrne was called into action at the other end, preventing Cresswell’s effort with an excellent save low to his right.
The two number sevens did battle, as Carvell beat Dearnley, and the former’s pull-back was taken away from Cresswell by Dearnley’s toe-poke, but the ball fell to Babos, who finished in style with the outside of his right foot to half the deficit.
Gribbin was booked for diving but in a later move he found Rashford, who skipped past the challenge and saw a well-struck shot held.
Derby were back on level terms as substitute Harry Goode lofted the ball back into the penalty area after an initial corner was clear, and Cover headed the ball past the onrushing Byrne.
Another substitute Jahvan Davidson-Miller should have won it for Derby, put he turned Cresswell’s low cross wide of the target, with the ball shaving the post on its way through.
Gribbin skimmed the bar with a curling effort but he made no mistake two minutes later, converting a free-kick in which he won, with one bounce and into the bottom corner to Yates’ left.
Wonderful technique to get the ball up and over the wall so quickly, as United saw out the game to claim their first win of the season.
Four points from three games for Paul McGuinness ‘ side, with trips to Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers await next, after a two week break for the U18s.
Manchester United: Byrne; Reid, Warren, Williams, Hamilton; Kehinde (Whelan 68), Scott; Dearnley (Diedrick-Roberts 80), Gribbin, Buffonge (Kenyon 37); Rashford.
Subs: Whelan, Dorrington, Kenyon, Dunne, Diedrick-Roberts.
Manager: Paul McGuinness
Derby County: Yates; Stabana, Bateman (Goode 72), Cover, MacDonald; Carvell, Holmes (Hayward 67), Edwards, Cresswell; Babos; Mellors (Davidson-Miller 67).
Subs: Goode, Leverton, Davidson-Miller, Davey, Hayward.
Manager: Justin Walker/Rory Delap