Under-18s: West Brom 4 Manchester United 2
Manchester United’s youngsters launched their 2017/18 league season with a shock 4-2 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Trailing by three goals at the break, the Reds had the better of the second half but the deficit proved to be too big an obstacle.
It was, for most of the time, bright and windy at West Brom’s Birmingham Road training centre. There was a small crowd present as the game got under way and, from the off, United dominated possession.
Defender Ethan Laird started the game in lively fashion and for most of the first half looked more like a winger than a full-back as he frequently attacked down the right.
Nishan Burkart, with a header, and captain Angel Gomes, who fired over, both went within inches of putting United in front.
Then, in the space of 14 minutes, the entire complexion of the game changed as West Brom proceeded to score three goals through Kieron Holsgrove, Morgan Rogers and Jamie Soule, to leave United with a mountain to climb.
United carved out numerous chances during the opening half without any success, while Albion produced far fewer with much greater accuracy.
The second half brought a similar pattern of play, with United having more of the ball, but it was Albion who found the net, in the 63rd minute, through Mylo Hall’s curling finish.
United continued to press forward and, in the 71st minute, the young Reds pulled one back when Aidan Barlow slotted home from the penalty spot after Burkart had been felled by Pablo Martinez.
Millen Baars reduced the arrears with time running out with a cracking shot, but it too late for United to harbour thoughts of gaining anything from a game that, remarkably, they could have won.
United: Fojticek; Laird, Ercolani, Barrett (Baars 46), O’Connor; Barlow, Galbraith (Levitt 85) Garner, Williams (Bughail-Mellor 85); Gomes, Burkart. Subs not used: Thompson, Bernard.