Young Reds turn things around at Doncaster
Manchester United made it three wins out of three in Group H of the Leasing.com Trophy to beat Doncaster Rovers 2-1 and clinch top spot in the table and qualify for the knockout stages.
Neil Wood's side came from behind, after Alfie May's 61st-minute opener, with Ethan Galbraith rattling home a piledriver of a volley before Mason Greenwood struck deep into stoppage time to earn all three points.
Greenwood and Tahith Chong both started for United, who were, nonetheless, missing some key players at this level. It perhaps showed in the opening exchanges, with Rovers piling on the pressure and testing Matej Kovar in the visiting goal.
Madger Gomes had the first shot of the game, as early as the third minute, and, although Kovar saved comfortably, his next stop, to deny May, was a top reflex movement with with his leg.
In the ninth minute, Alex Kiwomya should really have scored but sent his header down into the ground and over the bar from close range.
Moments later, Joe Wright's bullet header from a quickly taken corner forced a top-drawer save out of Kovar, who was being kept busy.
Gradually United weathered the storm, with skipper Chong instigating some decent breaks, even if home keeper Ian Lawlor remained untested. Greenwood had one attempt blocked after being fed by Arnau Puigmal but there were few chances as the half wore on, except for a Gomes shot at the other end that was straight at Kovar.
The Reds showed we would be more of a threat at the start of the second half, with Largie Ramazani stealing possession inside the opposition half and bearing down on goal. With options open to the Belgian, he elected for a cross that drifted past the far post with Greenwood hoping for a tap-in.
On the hour mark, May fired in a shot from a difficult angle that Kovar kept out but, seconds later, the same player tried his luck when the ball fell kindly to Rovers forward Kiwomya, off D'Mani Mellor, and he fed May. This time, Kovar allowed the ball to squirm through his grasp and the home supporters celebrated a fortuitous breakthrough.
Greenwood smashed in a first shot on target for the Reds in response, but Lawlor was able to beat it out. Wright then headed narrowly wide from a corner as United lived dangerously.
On 71 minutes, Galbraith produced a moment of sheer magic to light up the occasion. The Northern Ireland international met the ball full on the volley when a right-wing cross by Ethan Laird was only partially cleared and it arrowed past Lawlor, who had no chance of keeping it out.
The midfielder visibly gained in confidence and a sublime through ball released Mellor, whose shot was blocked, as United came on strong. Ramazani forced Lawlor into a save after a dribble but there was a scare at the other end when Kiwomya slipped just as a home winner seemed on the cards.
Instead, Darren Moore's team were undone at the death. Rovers repelled one raid down the right by Laird but had no answer to Greenwood in a similar position as he weaved his way past a couple of defenders and buried a low finish under Lawlor for the winner.
United: Kovar; Laird, Mengi, Bernard, Devine; Galbraith, Puigmal (Helm 77); Ramazani (Elanga 86), Mellor, Chong (c); Greenwood.
Subs not used: Woolston, Fish, Taylor, McGhee, Hoogewerf.
Scorers: May 61 | Galbraith 71, Greenwood 90+4.