UNDER-21S

Barclays U21 Premier League
AJ Bell Stadium
Monday 20 January

MANCHESTER UNITED 0

MIDDLESBROUGH 0

20/01/2014 20:42, Report by Adam Marshall
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Under-21s: United 0 Boro 0

Manchester United's Under-21s played out a frustrating 0-0 stalemate with Middlesbrough at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Warren Joyce's side dominated throughout but were unable to find a way past Connor Ripley despite bringing Wilfried Zaha off the bench to bring his unique wing-play to the match.

The home side were quick out of the blocks with Will Keane having two early headed efforts and Larnell Cole belting a shot wide from outside the box. A lovely move involving the buccaneering Fabio and Cole led to Jesse Lingard flashing a decent strike just wide as the Reds dominated.

Boro started to cause problems of their own with a Tom Thorpe clearance off Charni Ekangamene leaving Sam Johnstone stranded but, thankfully, flying the wrong side of the right-hand post. Thorpe also had to bail out Ekangamene with a desperate tackle on Bradley Fewster after a misjudgment by his central defensive partner while Cameron Park saw a shot deflected wide.

However, United continued to create a steady stream of chances with Ripley somehow keeping out Tyler Blackett when he looked to certain to convert a Fabio centre. Cole pulled the ball back for Lingard to again test Ripley's reflexes and a decent opening was spurned by Will Keane on the stroke of half-time when the centre-forward lobbed over the bar after being picked out by Reece James' fine pass.

The Teessiders enjoyed more possession after the break and Joyce introduced Wilfried Zaha in place of Federico Macheda on the wing. Ekangamene again went close to finding his own net with a defensive header but Keane was unlucky to be ruled offside when expertly volleying in a pass over the top by Davide Petrucci.

The same duo combined again when Petrucci won the ball with a superb tackle and then crossed to the far post, after reaching a Fabio pass, but Keane's towering header was straight at Ripley. The visiting keeper then pulled off a remarkable one-handed save to deny substitute Zaha.

Zaha was certainly having an impact on proceedings and his neat touch released Cole, who could only bend a drive off

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