It was a great weekend of football for Manchester United's youth teams. The Reserves kicked things off on Friday evening with a win against Liverpool, while the U-18s continue to dominate their league with a big win against the Baggies.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United
Two late goals gave Manchester United’s Reserves a much needed win over old rivals Liverpool at Anfield. The game could be seen as a prelude to the much anticipated match between the senior teams, and it held all the same drama.
After struggling in the league, United were heavy underdogs against a Liverpool side challenging for the Premier League 2 title. However, it was the Reds that started brightly in front of the 5,000 strong home crowd.
Young forward Zak Dearnley had two chances in the opening five minutes; first, his shot was impressively denied by goalkeeper Danny Ward, before Tahith Chong’s cross narrowly escaped his connection.
The game lived up to the build-up and the first-half was a thoroughly entertaining affair. Liverpool’s attacking display created chances, but failed to really test Kieran O’Hara in the United goal. Ethan Hamilton almost gave the Reds the lead in the 34th minute, only to be superbly denied by Ward.
For all of United’s promising play, it would be the hosts that were first on the scoresheet shortly after the hour mark. Defender Adam Lewis stepped up to take a free-kick and found the top corner with a sublime strike.
Ward – who has experience with Wales as a senior international – proved his worth once more, thwarting both Dearnley and Riley. Nevertheless, the intense pressure and attacking showing from Ricky Sbragia’s side was too much for the keeper and Liverpool.
Just before the 80th minute, an inspiring moment of solo brilliance from captain Joe Riley drew United level. Picking the ball up just inside his own half, the skipper weaved his way through to the edge of the box before cleverly dispatching a curled shot past the goalkeeper.
A couple of minutes later, substitute Joshua Bohui was brought down in the area and awarded a penalty for the Reds. Callum Gribbin stepped up to the spot and calmly converted to give United the lead.
Manchester United held on to clinch the dramatic comeback victory, their first of 2018.
They return to play on Sunday, 18 March, travelling to Wales to face Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.
Manchester United 6-1 West Brom
Manchester United U-18s widened the gap at the top of the table to four points after an emphatic 6-1 win over West Brom at the weekend. Four goals in an explosive first-half showing guided the Reds to victory.
Kieran McKenna’s side were up for the game from the first whistle and took the lead after just three minutes. Mason Greenwood displayed some powerful running combined with exquisite trickery and a composed finish to put the Reds 1-0 up. The number nine got his second after a defensive mishap allowed him through on goal, he smartly tucked the ball away past the keeper.
Just after the half-hour mark, Nishan Burkart extended United’s lead after another wonderful solo run on the right-hand side ended with a collected finish on his left foot into the bottom corner.
The young Reds were reveling at the Aon Training Complex and found themselves a fortuitous fourth. Greenwood once again spearheaded a fast-paced counter attack, crossing into the box, before defender Harry Williams turned the ball into his own net.
After the break, United continued to dominate. A beautifully weighted pass from James Garner fell into the path of in-form Aidan Barlow who slotted the ball home with a first-time finish.
West Brom would get a consolation with five minutes left on the clock. Finn Azaz and Samuel Wilding combined on the edge of the box, before Azaz unleashed a brilliant effort to deny Matej Kovar his clean sheet.
However, the Reds would have the last laugh, Arnau Puigma got United’s sixth in stoppage time, striking a powerful shot into the top-left corner.
Manchester United have a midweek fixture, travelling to struggling Woverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday. A win would momentarily send United seven points clear of second placed Liverpool who don’t play until Sunday.