Anthony Elanga takes on the Accrington Stanley defence

United U21s bow out after bold effort at Accrington

Tuesday 08 December 2020 21:18

Whilst the thoughts of most Manchester United supporters were with the first team striving to reach the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League by avoiding defeat against RB Leipzig, our Under-21s were also playing away in a cup competition but considerably closer to home.

The brief hop up to Accrington Stanley’s Wham Stadium provided a fascinating contest that was eventually won 3-2 by the League One side's senior team, but they would be the first to admit that they were pushed all the way by United’s second XI.

Facundo Pellistri and Anthony Elanga scored for the Reds while Cameron Burgess and two goals from Joe Pritchard swung the game in Accrington’s favour.
Reece Devine brings the ball forward from defence.
This was our fourth game in the recently sponsored Papa John’s EFL Trophy and the first in the knockout stage after meeting Salford City, Rochdale and Morecambe in the group phase.

Accrington Stanley, one of the oldest and legendary names of Lancashire football, came through their group that also included Blackpool, Barrow and a youthful Leeds United Under-21s side whom they defeated 7-0.

So the young Reds were under no illusion that they were in for a challenging night and that became more apparent when the home side struck first as central defender Burgess scored with a towering header.
United, in the change shirts of black and white stripes to avoid a clash with Stanley’s red, were quick to react to the early setback and Elanga could have bagged an equaliser but for a great save from the hosts' goalkeeper Nathan Baxter.

Neil Wood's side began to see more of the ball following the near miss, but it was the home team who looked more likely to claim the next goal with Lewis Mansell, Matt Butcher and Tariq Uwakwe, who netted a hat-trick in the game against Leeds, all rueing their luck.

Giving a good account of themselves against the older and more experienced League One outfit, United's youngsters clawed our way back into the game five minutes before the break when confusion in the Stanley defence gave Pellistri the reasonably easy task of slotting home the leveller.
Facundo Pellistri takes the ball past the grounded goalkeeper to equalise for United.
There was give and take in abundance with both teams performing at full throttle and there was no let up after the interval, as the sides continued to compete for a place in the competition’s next round.

In the 61st minute, Elanga gave a terrific example of his huge potential when he swept down the left wing, covering something like 60 yards in the process, before beating ‘keeper Baxter with a fabulous angled shot.

Although United were now 2-1 up, it was impossible to predict a winner of this tie and when Joe Pritchard scored to put Accrington back on level terms, the identity of the victors became an even bigger conundrum.

Five minutes from time, the Lancashire team regained the lead thanks to Pritchard hitting his second goal of the night.
Shola Shoretire challenges Joe Pritchard, the scorer of Accrington's second and third goals.
Time finally ran out for the young Reds but both teams could look back on a fine contest that any supporters of either team, had they been allowed to attend, would have greatly enjoyed.


United: Woolston; Fernandes, Fish, Mengi, Devine; Puigmal (Hugill 45 +1), Hannibal, Galbraith; Pellistri (Helm 78), Shoretire, Elanga.

Substitutes not used: Ercolani, Carney, McCann, Stanley, Neville.

Goals: Pellistri 40, Elanga 61 | Burgess 9, Pritchard 68, 85.