Manchester United’s Under-18s slipped to a narrow defeat on a cold and blustery Newcastle Training Ground on Saturday after firing a rare blank.
The young Reds, who put five past Middlesbrough a fortnight ago, couldn't find the net in a game that produced very few genuine scoring chances at either end. There was little to pick between the sides and one goal early in the second half proved sufficient to give the hosts all three points.
Dean Henderson was the busier of the two keepers in the early stages of the game as the home side looked to strike first. Newcastle should have taken the lead in the fourth minute after skipper Alex Gilliead burst into the area because although the Reds managed to defend his cross, the ball ran to Liam Smith and he blazed over from a good position. When Smith threatened again with a tricky curling shot from the right wing, the visitors' captain Ryan McConnell did well to clear it from the line.
At the other end, Demetri Mitchell, Joshua Harrop and Marcus Rashford all tried their luck to beat Newcastle keeper Freddie Woodman from long range. However, it was Matthew Willock, restored to the team after injury, who went closest with a shot that flew narrowly over the bar.
The strong wind was playing havoc with the game but both sets of players were doing their best despite the testing conditions. Playing into the teeth of the wind, the Reds started well after the break and seemed unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Ashley Fletcher appeared to receive a push as he attempted to reach the ball.
Then, with eleven minutes of the second half having elapsed, Newcastle made the breakthrough. There didn’t appear to be a threat when Magpies midfielder Greg Olley collected the ball midway in the Reds' half, but he managed to navigate a route through the defence before hitting a rising shot past Henderson.
The visitors enjoyed more possession in the second half and Rashford had the Newcastle defence back-pedalling and was unlucky not to be rewarded for his skill and determination. But the Reds were still finding it difficult to produce good scoring opportunities until Mitchell got his head