Barclays Premier League Under-21s Division 1
Manchester United vs. Reading
Venue: Leigh Sports Village
Date: Monday, 15 February 2016
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Manchester United U21s saw off the challenge of fourth placed Reading, securing a narrow victory against the Royals at Leigh Sports Village.
It was a Sean Long own goal early after the interval that won the game for United, where a depleted squad maintained an excellent home record that continued on a chilly night in the North West.
The first chance of the game fell Reading’s way, with Jack Stacey’s volley from a cleared corner dropping wide.
Formerly of Reading, Matty Willock took control of the ball and ran from his own half, seeing a decent attempt parried by Stuart Moore, as George Evans curled a shot over the bar at the other end moments later.
Aaron Kuhl’s forward pass found Andrija Novakovich, whose shot struck the inside of the post, before the same combination saw the latter meet the cross of the former, only for the header to drop straight into the arms of Joel Pereira.
A swerving shot from Evans was well-saved from Pereira, with Marcus Rashford’s pull back finding Joe Riley, who could only blaze his effort over the bar from close range.
After the break, Willock’s skill and volley produced a fine save from Moore, with Rowan Liburd seeing a shot held for the visitors.
Then came the goal, with Joe Riley’s low cross met by Weir who struck the post, but the ball cannoned back off against Long and into the net.
Zak Jules was booked for hauling down Rashford in a dangerous position with some neat play in a later move seeing Weir curl a left-footed attempt just wide.
Similar to Thursday night’s victory over Manchester City, United had to dig in and defend well to see out the game, which they did so in a professional and determined manner.
With some of the usual picks unavailable due to injury or first team call-ups, a back three featured two 17 and one 18 year old, highlighting the composure and youthful nature of the side that got over the line tonight.
Three important points that keeps Warren Joyce’s side atop of Division One, with three clean sheets and nine goals scored in these past three home games in the past seven days.
With the final two home games falling at Old Trafford, the U21 action at Leigh Sports Village ends with a 100% record this season, where 22 goals were scored in 8 games.
Five consecutive away games to follow on from tonight, the first of which coming from the Etihad Stadium, with a 1pm kick-off time commencing City v United on Saturday afternoon.
Manchester United: J.Pereira; Williams, Poole, Fosu-Mensah; El Fitouri (Warren 88), Willock, Redmond, Riley; Weir, Rothwell; Rashford (Mctominay 84).
Subs: Mitchell, Henderson, McTominay, Doughty, Warren.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Reading: Moore; Watson, Keown, Jules, Long; Kuhl, Evans; Stacey, Novakovich (Cardwell 68), Fosu; Liburd (Husin 80).
Subs: Osho, Ward, Rinomhota, Husin, Cardwell.
Manager: Martin Kuhl