Manchester United's Under-18s bounced back from a spate of disappointing form in commanding manner as the young Reds swept aside Middlesbrough in a ruthless 5-1 win at the Aon Training Complex.
Having been knocked out of the FA Youth Cup this month at the hands of Huddersfield, Paul McGuinness' charges played like they wanted to prove a point and, despite a scrappy start, the Reds asserted measured control over the game and saw off the Teesiders with goals from from Ruairi Croskery, Josh Harrop, Demetri Mitchell and a brace for the brilliant Devonte Redmond.
In a congested early period, both sides were guilty of being profligate in possession, resulting in few chances created. However, with Croskery and Redmond in advanced positions, McGuinness' side benefitted from the duo's hard work as they harried the visitors into mistakes, with the former going on to play a part in the opening goal.
Picking up the ball in the opposition half, Croskery fed a pass to Harrop, who won a free-kick on the edge of the area. Stockport-born Harrop then proceeded to curl in the resulting set-piece only for it to deflect into the path of Redmond, who slotted home with aplomb.
Despite that set-back for the visitors, Boro almost responded immediately and it was left to Nicholas Ioannou to make an excellent last-ditch tackle on the onrushing striker McCarthy to prevent an instant equaliser. It was, however, United who were buoyed by the early lead and what had been a disjointed opening spell turned into a performance bristling with energy and ingenuity.
Although the visitors tested United shot-stopper Dean Henderson with a couple of stinging drives, the Reds soon doubled the advantage as Redmond turned provider for Croskery to hammer home the Reds’ second. Two soon became three as Redmond again showcased his creative nous, proving the catalyst in a United counter as the Mancunian forward picked out Harrop, who stormed past his man and fired his shot home.
Just before the break, Boro's Junior Mondal stole through on goal only to be thwarted by the excellent Henderson. It was an important intervention as, soon after the break, United made it four.