An entertaining encounter at the Aon Training Complex yielded plenty of goals but ultimately ended in disappointment for United's U18s as Paul McGuinness' side slipped to a 3-2 defeat against Bolton Wanderers.
The visitors began brightly and set about putting United under some early pressure as they aimed to secure a second win of the campaign over the Reds. However, despite blustery conditions which could have aided Bolton's quest, United saw out the brief early storm and the Reds' first attack of significance brought about the game's opening goal.
Left-back Ben Barber received the ball wide on the left and proceeded to swing an excellent cross into the box looking for Ashley Fletcher. The striker stormed into the area but the ball fell just behind him. However, his slight touch took the pace off the cross, enabling fellow forward Ruairi Croskery to fire home.
Buoyed by the early advantage, United grew in confidence as Fletcher and Croskery again linked up well to take the Reds close to doubling the lead. Following intricate play on the edge of the area, the ball found its way via Rashford and Fletcher to Croskery, who blazed his shot over the crossbar.
In an increasingly action-packed encounter the visitors also offered plenty going forward. Jordan Hendrie persisted to make probing runs from right-back, with one such foray leading to an opportunity for Carl Kennedy, whose shot was well off target. Soon after, Guillermo Torres tested Reds' stopper Dean Henderson with a stinging drive, but the score would remain the same as the teams went in at the break.
McGuinness sent his young side out looking for more goals as the second-half got under way, but it was Bolton who once again began the half more assertively. Following a congested midfield tussle in the visitor's half, they launched a counter-attack and the ball found its way to Luke Emery, who hit a low drive towards Dean Henderson's goal. The deflected effort almost wrong-footed the Reds goalkeeper. However,