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José’s Juniors: Reserves stumble again, but Tahith Chong shines in loss

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Plus, a couple of youngsters sign their first professional contracts

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Reserves

Manchester United 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United’s Reserves lost a must win game at the bottom of the table against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night. The bottom two teams in the Premier League 2 battled it out at Old Trafford under the watchful eye of José Mourinho.

Ricky Sbragia was forced to chop and change the line-up once again, with the likes of Demetri Mitchell and James Wilson recently sent out on loan. Five U-18s were called up, including debutants Tahith Chong and defender Lee O’Conner. In addition to the debutants, Aidan Barlow, Nishan Burkart and Angel Gomes all featured.

It was a slow start to the game for both sides but it would be Spurs who were gifted a penalty in the 35th minute when Tyrell Warren was penalized in the box. Spurs striker Kazaiah Sterling stepped up but was brilliantly denied by Joel Pereira to keep the game level. United finished the half strongly and were unlucky not to take a lead into the break, when Indy Boonen headed against the woodwork.

Chong was United’s best player throughout the game and would get on the scoresheet moments after the half. Pouncing on a loose defensive pass, the youngster slotted calmly past goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman.

The advantage was short-lived as Spurs equalized 10 minutes later. Keanen Bennetts capitalized on some suspect United defending and finished confidently. Spurs took the lead just three minutes after, when Jack Roles slotted past Pereira from a short range. Spurs sealed all three points on the 70th minute; Sterling making amends for his penalty miss by driving home the visitors third of the evening.

The result leaves Manchester United rooted to the bottom of the table with no win in the last six games. Spurs leapfrog the Reds, going one point ahead. Sbragia will be hoping for a bounce-back performance when the reds travel to Derby County on Sunday 4th February.

In other news, the reserves have been drawn against Villarreal in the quarter-finals of the Premier League International Cup. The reds have been prolific in the campaign so far, winning all three group games to advance to the quarters. The dates and venues will be announced at a later time.

U-18s

The U-18s have had a weekend off without a game. They return to action on Saturday 3rd February when they host Derby County at the AON Training Complex. United, who sit top of the table, will look to continue their recent run of good form. Kieran McKenna’s side will be paying close attention to Liverpool though, as the famous rivals sit in second place with a game-in-hand on the reds.

Away from the pitch, it has been good news for two rising academy stars, Max Dunne and George Tanner. The pair have both recently signed their first professional contracts. Tanner is a skillful wide-player, who can occupy either a winger or full-back position. He is currently part of the England U-18 international and has played 27 times for United’s U-18s.

Max Dunne, an 18-year-old local center-back has been described by McKenna as a “tough, aggressive defender who is good in the air.” Dunne and Tanner will join teammates Angel Gomes, Aidan Barlow, Aliou Traore, Arnau Puigmal, all of whom have recently signed professional deals with the club.