United were unfortunate to be knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at the round stage after dominating possession against Carlisle at the Victoria Ground on Wednesday.
An early penalty for the visitors and a brilliant second strike put the Cumbrians 2-0 ahead after half an hour, and it proved too big a task to overcome.
Danny Welbeck pulled a goal back just before the interval, but despite a second-half spent almost permanently in Carlisle’s half the Reds couldn’t make the pressure count.
The Reds were behind after 12 minutes when United goalkeeper Ben Amos brought down Carlisle striker Gary Madine inside the area. The Blues striker dusted himself down and neatly converted his spot-kick.
Having gone behind in the previous round against Brighton, this wasn’t uncharted territory for the young Reds. And McGuinness’ young charges picked away at the Carlisle defence.
After a twisting run on the edge of the box, striker Federico Macheda forced a smart save with a thumping shot just before the half hour mark. Minutes later Reds skipper Corry Evans hit the post with a left-footed strike.
The Reds dominated possession and their passing was crisp and controlled. However Carlisle struck again against the run of play when Steve Hindmarch hit a stunning, swerving volley from 25 yards that Amos had no chance of stopping.
The Reds kids kept plugging away and eventually Welbeck produced some magic of his own to pull a goal back. Twisting and turning inside the area, he escaped his marker before rifling a low left-footed shot inside the near post. It arrived three minutes before half-time, the perfect set up for the second half.
United continued to dominate after the break, constantly pressing Carlisle, who quickly began to tire and subsequently retreat. With 25 minutes of the half remaining the visitors were desperate, all players bar one striker behind the ball and defenders hoofing it clear.
All it needed was the goal United’s possession