Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Sunderland vs. Manchester United
Venue: Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground
Date: Monday, 26 October 2015
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Manchester United secured a 1-0 win away at Sunderland in the U21s Premier League, in a close and hard-fought contest at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground.
This game came 35 days after the victory over Everton at Leigh Sports Village in the last match at this level, and United made it back-to-back victories on a cold evening up on Wearside thanks to Tyler Reid’s calm finish in the 74th minute, despite only arriving as a substitute less than 10 minutes prior to his match winner.
Mikael Mandron’s left footed effort early on went wide after Axel Tuanzebe’s unfortunate slip allowed the Black Cats’ number nine to get his strike away.
Mandron could only direct his header from a right-wing cross backwards, but it fell to the onrushing Liam Agnew, but he sliced his effort wide.
Agnew then blazed over from close range as Martin Smith struck a free-kick over the bar after Timothy Fosu-Mensah fouled Duncan Watmore.
A mix-up between goalkeeper Vito Mannone and George Brady led to the former receiving a bloody nose, as Ashley Fletcher nearly nipped in, only for Brady to clear the ball before it reached the goal.
Mandron’s acrobatic attempt flew over as Adam Matthews sliced wide, with Sam Johnstone yet to be tested.
This continued to be the case as Tuanzebe received a booking for bringing down Charalampos Mavrias, but Watmore’s free-kick struck James Weir in the United wall.
Weir then flicked the ball up against the arm of Thomas Robson, who seemed to lean into it, only for referee Andrew Miller to dismiss the appeal.
Lynden Gooch’s header was only half-cleared by Guillermo Varela, with Agnew blazing the rebound over the bar.
Another header, this time from Watmore, fell straight into the arms of Johnstone, likewise Matty Willock’s effort was held with ease by Mannone at the other end, as half-time arrived with the game scoreless.
Into the second half and Fletcher used his strength and pace well to force an opening in the right-hand channel, but fired wide.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson made a superb last ditch challenge to prevent Mandron from working Johnstone, as the striker dragged an attempt wide a minute later.
Fosu-Mensah burst into the penalty area but fired over as Johnstone palmed Watmore’s cross away from danger at the other end.
Weir’s surging run led to his shot being blocked before his cross was met by Devonte Redmond, but his early jump meant that he nodded wide.
Then came the goal, with the ball flicking off a Sunderland defender’s head, which allowed Reid to pop up in unfamiliar territory, and he composed himself with a touch to set, before finishing past Mannone.
Sunderland began to show more urgency after falling behind, with Robson and Mavrias shooting over from distance, with Johnstone turning Watmore’s header behind in between those two off-target chances.
Watmore’s third header of the game looked like bring the hosts level from Mavrias’ cross, but he somehow managed to direct his header against Tuanzebe, despite the goal gaping.
Robson, who was lucky not to give away a penalty in the first half then went searching for his own, but the referee rightly booked him for diving, as the game finished with United clinging on to all three points.
This result ends Sunderland’s unbeaten record at this level this season, in their eighth game, whereas this was only United’s third game, as they take their tally to seven points.
The first half was shaded by Sunderland, but Warren Joyce’s side edged the second, and were rewarded by Reid’s first ever U21 goal with just over 15 minutes remaining, to send United home happy.
A home fixture against Reading next Monday awaits, with a trip to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City in line on November 23.
Manchester United: Johnstone; Varela, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson, Riley; Fosu-Mensah, Redmond; El Fitouri, Willock (Reid 66), Weir; Fletcher.
Subs: Rothwell, O’Hara, Rathbone, Reid, Gribbin.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Sunderland: Mannone; Matthews, Brady, Ledger, T. Robson; Agnew, Smith (Greenwood 74); Mavrias, Gooch, Watmore; Mandron.
Subs: J. Robson, Stryjek, E. Robson, Greenwood, Blinco.
Manager: Robbie Stockdale