Manchester United's Under 18s escaped a dose of derby-day blues on Saturday, thanks to Joshua Harrop’s goal from the penalty spot with less than two minutes of the normal 90 remaining.
The hosts Manchester City enjoyed more of the possession and territorial domination, but Paul McGuinness’s side crucially kept going to snatch victory away from the neighbours in the nick of time.
It was a beautifully mild and pleasant morning at City’s Platt Lane training complex, which is situated barely five minutes’ walk from where the Blues used to be based at Maine Road. The favourable weather had prompted a decent number of supporters to attend the fixture which, not surprisingly, always serves up an interesting, entertaining and keenly-fought contest.
There was nothing to choose between the sides in the opening stages as they both took a few minutes to size up the opposition. The first chance of the morning fell to United’s Sean Goss, but his shot spun away well wide of its intended destination. Then, less than sixty seconds later, City moved into the lead with a goal from striker Daniel Lema after United’s defence had failed to deal with a cross from the left.
The Reds almost made an immediate reply when Ashley Fletcher burst into the City area, but his shot, from a good position, flew over the crossbar. Blues’ keeper Billy O’Brien made a fine save to deny Andreas Pereira and then Fletcher had the ball in the net only to find that the assistant referee’s flag, for offside, was already fluttering.
United were given a let-off ten minutes before the break when the other referee’s assistant flagged for a penalty having spotted an incident in the area, but the referee would have none of it and he instantly overruled. The game was held up for about five minutes just before half-time to allow City full-back Pablo Maffeo to receive treatment. He was eventually taken from the field by the stretcher team.