UNDER-21S

Barclays Premier Reserve League
9 January 2008, Halton Stadium

EVERTON 2
Anichebe 12, Vaughan 17

MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Neville 21, S Evans 63
09/01/2008 20:00, Report by Steve Bartram

Reserves: Everton 2 United 2

Club captain Gary Neville made his long-awaited return from injury for United's Reserves on Wednesday evening, completing 45 minutes and scoring a rare goal as the Reds drew a thrilling match with Everton.

Neville played in his customary right-back berth and appeared fit and hungry for action as he put in an extremely promising shift against the Toffees, before being replaced by Richard Eckersley at half-time.

It was Neville's goal after 21 minutes which put United on the road to an impressive fightback. A deflected strike from Victor Anichebe and a long-range effort from James Vaughan had the hosts two goals up within 17 minutes.

Having motored down the right flank and onto David Gray's through-ball, however, Neville halved the arrears by cutting inside and placing a left-footed shot past goalkeeper John Ruddy, albeit via a slight deflection.

In a match which was littered with chances for both sides, United should have drawn level just before half-time when Febian Brandy was brought down inside the area.

Toffees defender John Irving was shown a straight red card for his offence, but United failed to capitalise as first Ritchie Jones saw his spot-kick saved before Sean Evans blazed the rebound off target.

The winger did make amends for his glaring miss on the hour mark, however. Taking a pass from substitute Chris Fagan, Evans made space for himself just inside the box before arrowing a superb shot into the bottom far corner.

Evans came close to snatching victory for United with five minutes remaining, but Ruddy did well to brush another powerful shot just past the post and save a point for his side.

The result prevented United from posting a sixth successive victory but, on a night when they fought from two goals down and saw club captain Neville make a promising return to action, there was little to disappoint managers Brian McClair and Jim Ryan.

United: Zieler; Neville (Eckersley, 46), Chester, Cathcart (Cleverley, 46), Simpson (Drinkwater, 46); Gray, Hewson, Jones, S Evans; Brandy, Dong.
Subs not used: Heaton, Lea.

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