Two goals from promising striker William Keane were enough to hand United’s Reserves victory against a strong Bolton side on Tuesday night.
Bulgaria international Martin Petrov played and scored for the home side, but it was teenager Keane who had the biggest impact on the game, netting in each half. His first came after just 15 minutes when he was quick to react after Trotters goalkeeper Jay Lynch spilled Jesse Lingard’s shot into the striker’s path.
Tom Thorpe then blocked a goalbound effort to preserve United’s advantage before Reds goalkeeper Ben Amos spread himself bravely to deny Turkish international Sanli Tuncay.
When Petrov headed over shortly afterwards it looked like a Bolton onslaught was about to begin, but Paul Pogba, Larnell Cole and Lingard all threatened at the other end as momentum swung back to the visitors. Bolton did get the ball in the net in first-half injury time but Darren Pratley’s effort was ruled out for offside after he pounced on Amos’ parry.
Keane doubled United’s advantage on 62 minutes after neat interplay between Thorpe and Davide Petrucci, but Bolton pulled one back less than 10 minutes later when Petrov fired a superb curling effort past Amos and into the bottom corner.
Lingard almost restored the two-goal advantage when he showed tremendous skill to first dummy and then round Bolton goalkeeper Lynch. His shot was blocked by a recovering defender, however, and from the resulting corner Zeki Fryers headed narrowly wide.
There were one or two scares in the dying minutes, but Warren Joyce’s men held on to earn a well-deserved victory.
United: Amos; M Keane, Fornasier, Fryers McGinty; Cole, Thorpe (Leao 86), Pogba, Petrucci, Lingard; W Keane (Cofie 68). Subs: Coll, Massacci, Giverin.