Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Sunderland vs. Manchester United
Venue: Stadium of Light
Date: Monday, 23 February 2015
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Little light shone on the action in this game though, as Mikael Mandron cancelled out Andreas Pereira’s opener, in a game that also saw Tyler Blackett sent off for a straight red card.
George Honeyman had the first shot of the evening, curling his effort goalwards, only for Joel Pereira to tip for the ball behind for a corner.
At the other end, another goalkeeper called Joel, this time Dixon for the Black Cats, was beaten, after a melee of chances for the visitors.
Pereira played in James Wilson in the left channel and the latter’s shot was blocked; James Weir deflected the rebound towards goal, but the ball looped up, hitting the crossbar, before Weir himself struck the rebound, but only against Dixon, but Pereira was on hand to fire home the loose ball to give United the lead.
In difficult and windy conditions, little happened until Sunderland’s equaliser 15 minutes later, which came courtesy of number nine Mandron, whose left foot effort from the edge of the box after Lawson squirmed the ball to him, found its way into the back of the net.
It was bad news for the other number nine, however, as James Wilson had to be withdrawn with a dead leg, with Ashley Fletcher on in his place, as the game petered out until half-time.
The second half began in frantic fashion, with a number of incidents occurring in one passage.
Martin Smith clipped Pereira as he ran through towards goal and was booked as a result.
As the referee made sure the free-kick was taken in the correct position, and Pereira lined it up, the huddle of players inside the penalty area broke out into a scuffle, which saw Blackett push Tom Beadling in the face and receive a straight red card.
Beadling was booked and the free-kick was eventually taken by Pereira, forcing a save from Dixon, but an off-balance Weir put the rebound over the bar.
Similar to the first half, not much happened in terms of goal mouth action until just over 15 minutes remaining.
Mandron headed over from close range, failing to grab his and Sunderland’s second.
Substitute Andy Kellett – on for one of the other substitutes Fletcher and making his debut since his loan move from Bolton Wanderers – ran at the Black Cats defence, before cutting back onto his favoured left, but Weir ran onto it and struck it first time, as Dixon palmed it away.
Sean Goss, on for Josh Harrop at half-time, was booked for a foul on ex-United trainee Duncan Watmore, himself a substitute, but Honeyman’s free-kick went sailing over the ball.
Watmore himself looked to get one over on his former club, but his effort from the right went wide, before Honeyman’s shot from distance bounced up in front of Pereira, but the keeper held with ease.
After six minutes of stoppage time, the game ended all square.
A dismal game to say the least, but a point that is enough to keep United top of the league.
Likewise, with the dismissal of Blackett early in the second half, a point will seem like a decent result given the circumstances and also the weather conditions.
Bolton await in the Manchester Senior Cup semi-final next week for Warren Joyce’s side, where Manchester City await the winners.
Manchester United: J. Pereira; Love, Thorpe, Blackett, James; El Fitouri, Grimshaw, A. Pereira, Harrop (Goss 46); Weir, Wilson (Flecther 39) (Kellett 84).
Subs: Willock, O’Hara, Goss, Fletcher, Kellett.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Sunderland: Dixon; Ledger, Beadling, McNamee, T. Robson; Agnew, Smith (Watmore 62); Gooch, Honeyman, Lawson (Greenwood 75); Mandron.
Subs: Greenwood, Burke, Watmore, J. Robson, Nelson.