United’s Reserves all but secured a place in this season’s Manchester Senior Cup final with a comfortable 3-0 win against Oldham Athletic on Wednesday.
Warren Joyce’s side now have 15 points from five games in the competition this season and, although not mathematically certain to go all the way, can certainly claim to have at least one foot in the final.
Wednesday’s clash, played behind closed doors at Carrington, struggled to catch fire until Jesse Lingard opened the scoring on 35 minutes when he calmly sidefooted home Marnick Vermijl’s pull-back.
By the time the half-time whistle blew, United had added a further two goals. Lingard was also involved heavily for the second, darting through Oldham’s midfield before feeding Will Keane, who slotted cleverly past the advancing Latics goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.
Then Davide Petrucci, who enjoyed a fine game in the centre of the park, got on the scoresheet in first-half injury time when he bundled the ball home from close range after Bouzanis had failed to hold a cross.
The interval couldn’t come quick enough for Oldham, who welcomed the opportunity to regroup at the break. Consequently, the Red tide was stemmed in the second period and Warren Joyce’s men managed only glimpses of the Oldham goal.
The visitors spurned a golden chance to pull one back towards the end when Matt Smith headed wastefully wide, but it would have made little difference to the result. The game was well won by then.
In addition to the result, there were other reasons for fans to smile. Darren Fletcher, taking time out from playing football in order to recover from illness, was again involved in a coaching capacity. Fletcher led the Reserves during the warm-up, just as he did in the team’s last outing, against Newcastle at Altrincham.