Premier Academy League
Carrington, Sat 27 March 2010
MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Ajose 82, 88 (pen)
United: Devlin; Moffatt, Fornasier, Thorpe, Fryers; Brown, Wootton, Cole, Ajose; Stewart, Lingard. Subs: Jacob, Barmby, Blackett, Keane.
Video: Extended highlights on MUTV Online
Nicky Ajose scored twice in the last eight minutes at Carrington as United overcame a difficult test against Sunderland.
In a wind-affected game of few chances, the strong visitors often looked the more likely victors, not least in the fifth minute when tall striker Matthew Fletcher cut inside to force a decent parry from Reds keeper Conor Devlin.
But in the absence of their top scorer Ryan Noble - responsible for 25 of their 69 goals this season - Sunderland couldn't convert their greater share of possession into a winning position, and they were punished in the latter stages as Paul McGuinness' boys claimed maximum points for the first time in four games.
United's top marksman William Keane was also absent from the teamsheet, so it was left to Cameron Stewart and Jesse Lingard to carry the main threat to Sunderland in the first half. However, the pair seemed to get in each other's way when, at the end of a jinking run by the former, the latter lifted a shot above the bar from the edge of the area. Stewart went closer to breaking the deadlock when his best effort was deflected high and wide.
The same duo would eventually combine to create United's 82nd-minute opener.