Under-18s: Manchester United 6 Middlesbrough 2
The recent run of impressive form Manchester Under-18s have been enjoying was maintained in style as we overcame a strong Middlesbrough side to stretch the unbeaten run to six games.
And, at the same time, the Reds rattled home six goals for the second successive week to give the goals for column a very healthy appearance.
This meeting had all the makings of an intriguing contest with our youngsters holding fourth spot in table, just one point and one place above Middlesbrough who had completed one game more.
United, of course, were going into the game on the back of that scintillating 6-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Boro were boosted by a 3-2 success over North-East rivals Newcastle United last weekend.
Weather-wise it was what can only be described as changeable as kick-off time drew near with brief showers and very fresh winds – courtesy perhaps of the incoming ‘Storm Brian’ – sharing the scene with occasional outbreaks of beaming sunshine.
Mason Greenwood and Boro’s Connor Malley both fired in shots in the opening minutes as the game got off to bright start. Both sides looked lively and keen to take the contest to their opponents and, in the 13th minute, the visitors made the breakthrough with a goal from Stephen Wearne.
Kieran McKenna's men, however, were quick to reply and, barely three minutes later, were on terms when Nishan Burkart crossed from the left for Lee O’Connor to score at the far post.
Millen Baars was unlucky not to find the net on two occasions with shots that brought excellent saves from Boro keeper Zach Hemming. Then came a spell of three goals in four minutes with Burkart scoring twice for United either side of Stephen Walker’s goal for the Teesside club.
‘Storm Brian’ was, by this time, making its presence felt as the gusts became stronger, but both team coped well and to some degree used the wind to their benefit.
If the first half was a finely balanced contest, the second half certainly saw United take the laurels after finding the net a further three times. Aidan Barlow made it 4-2, in the 73rd minute, with a curling shot that skimmed over Greenwood’s head on its route past Hemming.
Substitute Largie Ramazani was then involved in the game’s final two goals with neat passes to set up Dylan Levitt, eight minutes from time, and O’Connor just before the final whistle.
United: Fojticek; O’Connor, Dunne, Barrett, B. Williams; Baars (McGhee 68), Garner, Levitt, Barlow (Mellor 77); Greenwood (Ramazani 74); Burkart. Subs not used: Thompson, Galbraith.