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José's Juniors: Manchester United U-18s move closer to the title

The Reserves beat relegation rivals to boost escape hopes

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur: Premier League 2 Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Reserves

Manchester United 4-0 Sunderland

Manchester United Reserves have given themselves a glimmer of hope with a dominant 4-0 win over fellow strugglers Sunderland.

Ricky Sbragia’s side would have been staring relegation straight in the face if they had failed to win. However, with two games remaining, they can still pull off a dramatic escape and remain in the Premier League Division 1.

Manchester United got off to a great start and looked the dominant team in the opening exchanges of play. Tahith Chong latched onto a defensive mishap before dispatching a composed finish past Max Stryjek in goal to give United the lead after 24 minutes.

United continued to press the advantage and would grab a second just before the break. Goal-scorer Chong then turned provider, setting up Zak Dearnley who slotted home the low cross.

The Reds’ performance was dominant and they began to enjoy more and more of the ball in the second-half. All three points were assured as United grabbed their third, reducing the visitors to a dejected showing. Belgian Indy Boonen showed superb determination, chasing a ball down the left-hand side, cutting inside and unleashing a shot past the goalkeeper at the near post.

The young Reds made it four moments later, when captain Joe Riley picked up a stray ball before curling a beautiful strike into the back of the net.

United saw the remainder of the game out and picked up a huge three points. They still remain at the bottom of the table, but close the gap with Sunderland to just one point. They are three points adrift of Derby County, but the Rams have a superior goal difference.

Manchester United Reserves will hope to win the remaining two games against Manchester City and Everton, with Sunderland, Derby County and Tottenham Hotspur all needing to drop points.

Next up for Ricky Sbragia’s side is a huge trip across the city to face Manchester City on Friday, 13 April.

U-18s

Middlesbrough 2-3 Manchester United

Manchester United U-18s move one step closer to claiming the U-18 Premier League North title after a dramatic 3-2 win at Middlesbrough this weekend.

It was not all smooth sailing in the five-goal thriller, as the hosts took the lead after 26 minutes when Steven Walker slotted home from close range. Middlesbrough looked to spoil the visitors chance of extending their lead at the top of table and were arguably the better side in the first-half, creating more opportunities and looking more threatening.

However, United responded just before the break, as in-form forward Mason Greenwood latched onto a long ball from Largie Ramazani. The striker weaved his way through the defense before dispatching a shot past Solomon Brynn in goal.

Kieran McKenna got his side fired up at half-time and they came out with an explosive start. Greenwood grabbed his second of the day just a minute after the break, Nishan Burkart’s pinpoint cross was calmly met by Greenwood to give the Reds the lead.

The game was back-and-forth in a truly entertaining match-up, and the hosts would draw level minutes later when United goalkeeper Matej Kovar brought down Isaac Fletcher in the box; Walker stepped up and converted the penalty.

United grabbed their third and ultimately the game winner on the 70th minute. It was a beautifully constructed team goal, Burkart’s cross was met by goal-scorer Greenwood who set up Dylan Levitt for the first-time finish.

The Reds did have the woodwork to thank for preserving their lead, as Layton Watts’ free-kick attempt hit the post. Nevertheless, the late pressure came to nothing and Manchester United held on for the vital victory.

Only noisy neighbors Manchester City can prevent the Reds from being crowned champions. With both Liverpool and Everton losing heavily at the weekend, both sides are mathematically unable to surge past United. City, who have three games in-hand on United, can theoretically still triumph, but that would require them to win all remaining games, including beating the Reds.

In a reverse of fortunes, Kieran McKenna's side will clinch the U-18 Premier League North title if they draw or beat Manchester City next week at Leigh Sports Stadium.