Under-18s: Blackburn 1 Manchester United 4

Saturday 18 November 2017 13:22

Manchester United’s Under-18s secured an impressive away win on Saturday, beating Blackburn Rovers 4-1 at Brockhall with the aid of an Angel Gomes double.

D'Mani Mellor headed in the fourth goal for the Reds, with a Hayden Carter own goal also on the visitors' side of the scoresheet, before Kyle Connell pulled one back for the hosts six minutes from time.

Gomes was a livewire presence from the first whistle, as he returned to action with United for the first time since helping England to win the Under-17 World Cup in India. The skilful playmaker's first notable attempt to score came from a direct free-kick, which he despatched just wide of the left-hand post, and a similar setpiece subsequently produced his opening strike in the 36th minute. This time he aimed to the right, whipping the ball over the defensive wall to beat the despairing dive of Blackburn goalkeeper Matthew Campbell.

Kieran McKenna's side had done enough to deserve taking the lead, even if Rovers had earlier created a couple of openings at the other end with Dan Butterworth hitting a half-volley straight at United shot-stopper Theo Richardson and attacking left-back Lewis Thompson having a shot blocked by Reds centre-back Jake Barrett. Gomes almost made it 2-0 with yet another free-kick, floating it from the left wing towards the far top corner, but Campbell made decisive contact on this occasion to punch the ball away.

The lead was actually doubled just eight minutes after the interval and in fortunate fashion, as James Garner's off-target shot struck Blackburn captain Carter and spun in the opposite direction to creep past Campbell. The Rovers' no.1 banged his head against the post as he tried unsuccessfully to keep the ball out but after a brief delay to the restart, he was allowed to continue.

The hosts responded well to going 0-2 down, with Connell causing Richardson to make a save low to his left and Thompson forcing a corner to the right with a shot that the United keeper just managed to touch wide. However, Gomes remained a threat and shortly after Arnau Puigmal and the fit-again Tahith Chong came on in a double substitution, the scorer of the Reds' first goal grabbed his second.

This time, the United captain netted from open play, using some mesmerising footwork to make sufficient space and time for a sweeping right-footed finish into the gaping right-hand area of the goal as Campbell stood rooted to the spot.

That was Gomes's last act before being replaced by Largie Ramazani, but the Reds still scored a fourth goal without his input. When George Tanner's right-wing corner was scuffed into the turf by Ethan Laird, the ball bounced up to be met by Mellor who showed great reactions to head it home on the stroke of the 78th minute.

Connell's close-range strike after good work by Rovers on their right ended United's hopes of keeping a clean sheet, six minutes from time, but this was only a small blemish on a fine performance by the Under-18 Premier League leaders. The display and result - a sixth win in nine league games - will both encourage McKenna and his players ahead of next Saturday's six-pointer away to second-placed rivals Manchester City.

United: Richardson; Tanner, Barrett, O'Connor, Laird; Levitt (Chong 70), Garner, Galbraith; Baars (Puigmal 70), Mellor, Gomes (Ramazani 75). Substitutes not used: Carney, Bernard.