Under-21s complete a domestic double
Manchester United’s Women’s Under-21s side are celebrating a domestic double, having overcome Chelsea 6-2 on aggregate to clinch the WSL Academy League title.
The young Reds powered past their London opponents at Moss Lane in Altrincham on Wednesday, with Keira Barry (2) and Megan Sofield scoring the goals in a 3-1 win during the second leg of the play-off final.
United have added the league crown to the WSL Academy Cup title claimed at the beginning of last month and it’s fair to say head coach Charlotte Healy is delighted with how her side has coped with the pressure of chasing trophies on two fronts.
Speaking to MUTV following the game, Healy was keen to point out how the experience of having to win game after game will stand her players in good stead in the future.
“I’m really pleased for the girls,” said Healy.
“Obviously at the start of the year they set out wanting to win trophies and I think from our point of view as staff we wanted them to have these experiences: the experience of having a league title run-in, which was a difficult run-in.
“They had two games in three days which they had to win, which is a good experience for them, and then to go into a two-legged play-off is always difficult.
“To travel two days later, off the back of the league run-in we had, these are the kind of experiences we want for the girls and a good test of their character and mentality and ability to perform under pressure.”
The Reds were in the driving seat following last week’s 3-1 success, secured via a Maria Edwards double and Eleanor Ashton goal at the Blues’ Cobham training ground.
Healy was slightly critical of how her side used possession but couldn’t fault how clinical we were over both legs.
“I didn’t think it was one of our best performances with the ball if I’m honest, probably in either leg,” Healy added.
“But I thought we created some really good chances and two of the goals you saw today were excellent.
“There are some really good players on the pitch from both sides but yeah I’m really pleased they were able to win the game. For the staff, like I said, it’s a really good experience for them which is what we wanted for them.”
Carrie Jones and Karna Solskjaer were involved in both legs and the homegrown pair have both made appearances for Marc Skinner’s first team this term.
The step from Under-21s football to the WSL is a big one, admits Healy, but there is plenty of optimism that those involved in the double success can go on to have great careers – whether at United or other clubs.
“There’s some real good talent in the programme across the pathway and we know that.
“The gaps are huge, we know that too, from Under-16s to Under-21s and 21s to the first team too, but it’s about giving them opportunities like these so that when they are getting opportunities in first teams, whether ours or someone else’s, that they’ve got experiences like this to fall back on.
“We’ve got to give them opportunities and we’ve got to give them experiences and these last couple of weeks has been all about that.”