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José's Juniors: Reserves face relegation

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The Reserves lose at Swansea, while the U-18s continue their title charge.

Manchester United U23 v Porto B: Premier League International Cup Quarter Final Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Reserves

Swansea City 2-0 Manchester United

Manchester United face an uphill task to stay in the Premier League 2 Division 1 after a 2-0 away loss at Swansea City. The Reds – who were momentarily lifted by their comeback win against Liverpool last week – are now four points adrift from safety, with both Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur picking up wins in their last games.

Swansea City came into the game upbeat after beating table topping Leicester City, and it didn’t take them long to get off the mark. Seven minutes in, defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s misplaced pass set George Byers loose before the midfielder found Botti Biabi who made no mistake in beating Kieran O’Hara in goal.

Just 16 minutes later, another loose ball was pounced upon and Adnan Maric doubled the Swans lead from a similarly tight angle.

United were unlucky not to reply in the first-half; two long range efforts from Callum Gribbin and captain Joe Riley tested goalkeeper Steven Bender, but both attempts were thwarted by the German.

Ricky Sbragia’s side will be wondering how they didn’t respond and they started off the second-half with great attacking intensity. Callum Gribbin once again provided the creative genius, weaving through the penalty area before a superb defensive tackle prevented him from striking on goal from close-range.

Later in the half, Roshaun Williams’ goal-bound volley produced a fantastic reflex save from Bender; the United defender could only hold is head in disbelief at how he didn't score.

It was an entertaining affair, but Manchester United came up short, their future in the Premier League 2 Division 1 will be tested in their final three remaining games.

The Red’s travel down south to London in a friendly match against Brentford at Griffin Park midweek, before returning to league action on Friday, April 6.

U-18s

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Manchester United

It’s been a great week for Kieran McKenna’s U-18 side, two wins, two clean sheets and seven goals put the Reds seven points clear in the Premier League U-18 North Division.

On Tuesday, United travelled to the midlands for a match-up with Wolverhampton Wanderers. The struggling hosts made it hard work for the Reds, keeping the league’s top-scorers at bay until added time in the second-half.

Wolves started the game brightly, and it took United shot-stopper Matej Kovar’s fast feet to clear a dangerous through ball. Moments later, Owen Otasowie’s long-range attempt tested Kovar, but the Czech keeper made the save look comfortable.

In a half that was dominated by both sides' solid defending, there was few chances for either outfit. The second-half started similarly too, with efforts on goal few and far between. 55 minutes in, United’s Dion McGhee came close as his free-kick struck the crossbar.

The game seemed to be heading for a stalemate, but with just six minutes remaining, Wolves captain Dion Sanderson was sent off for a challenge on Brandon Williams.

The reds have scored in every game this season, and they kept that excellent run going when Mason Greenwood converted from a Lee O’Connor cross. The ecstatic youngsters weren’t finished either, two minutes later Greenwood found space in the box and converted his second of the afternoon to gift United all three points.

Manchester United 5-0 Blackburn Rovers

Four days later, Manchester United thrashed bottom-of-the-table Blackburn Rovers 5-0 at the Aon Training Complex in Carrington. Another impressive first-half display and five different scorers maintained the Reds push for the league title.

It was a spectacular goal to open the scoring too, as Nishan Burkart hit a curling shot from a wide position that caught the goalkeeper completely unaware. The blustery winter conditions may have played their part, but it was a superb strike.

Ten minutes later, Mason Greenwood produced excellent trickery and set-up James Garner to double United’s lead.

After the break, conditions worsened and blizzard-like weather descended in Manchester. However, the Reds still produced a fiery attacking display and grabbed their third four minutes into the second-half. Mason Greenwood grabbed his third goal of the week with a first-time finish capping off a fluid United counter attack.

The blizzard was momentary, but United’s desire to score didn’t waver. Shortly after the hour mark, the young Reds grabbed their fourth as the ball fortuitously fell to the feet of Dylan Levitt in the penalty area, and the Welsh international showed composure to slot the ball in the bottom corner.

Substitute D’Mani Mellor converted moments later, cleverly rounding the oncoming goalkeeper before slotting home from a tight angle. The U-18’s continue to impress in the league, and Kieran McKenna has got his offense firing on all cylinders with 59 goals scored in just 19 games.

Second-place Liverpool lurk seven points behind the Reds, but have two games in hand. With three remaining fixtures in the league – including a trip to Liverpool – Manchester United U-18’s are set for an entertaining finish to what has been an excellent campaign.

They return to action against Middlesborough on Saturday, April 7.