James Garner talks to his Manchester United Under-21 team-mates after scoring the winning goal at Lincoln City

Garner strike secures second cup win

Manchester United’s Under-21s are well on course to reach the next stage of the Leasing.com Trophy after taking maximum points from this 1-0 Northern Group H win over Lincoln City at Sincil Bank.

The Reds were under the cosh for parts of the game, but James Garner’s first-half goal proved to be vital on a night when both sides struck the woodwork on two occasions. 

United, wearing a change strip of black shirts so as to not clash with Lincoln’s red and white stripes, were also sporting squad numbers which, incredibly, amounted to a total of 616 on the backs of the starting eleven.

Lincoln, the team currently placed 11th in League One, raced out of the blocks to make a confident and commanding start to this cup tie.

Admittedly, the Sincil Bank club were represented by their first eleven who regularly line up in League One against some of English football’s historically great clubs such as Bolton Wanderers, Blackpool, Portsmouth and Sunderland. And for the opening twenty minutes, the Imps, managed by one-time United midfield player Michael Appleton, used their seniority and experience to good effect.
 
Video
Manchester United Under-21 players celebrate James Garner's goal against Lincoln City
Watch Garner's winning goal and other notable moments in the match.

Early pressure saw the home side give United’s defence a really testing examination and but for Matej Kovar’s heroics they could have helped themselves to at least a couple of goals.

The Reds did exceptionally well to weather the storm and then, in the 20th minute, broke forward to score in what was our first genuinely serious assault on the Lincoln goal.

Tahith Chong was responsible for setting up the chance, finding Garner with an inch-perfect pass. Without breaking step, the midfielder calmly slotted the ball in off the post beyond Imps goalkeeper Grant Smith, to register his sixth goal in six Academy games.


It would be difficult and, indeed, totally wrong to try and deny that United had taken the lead against the flow of play but Neil Wood's young men had battled like Trojans to keep Lincoln at bay and could look upon Garner’s goal as reward for all that hard work.

The complexion of the game began to change following the breakthrough, although Lincoln were unlucky just before the half-time break when Harry Anderson rattled the Reds' woodwork.

The restart saw the Imps reasserting themselves, and left-back Harry Toffolo kept United’s defenders on alert with a regular flow of inviting crosses into the area. John Akinde had the ball in the Reds' net but was flagged offside and moments later Michael O’Connor also went close to equalising for the home side.

Matej Kovar makes one of several saves for Manchester United Under-21s against Lincoln City
Kovar successfully kept Lincoln's senior players at bay.

The opening minutes after the break certainly belonged to the hosts, in much the same way the early stages of the first half had done, but United went staggeringly close to pinching another goal in the 61st minute. Largie Ramazani’s left-foot sizzler smacked against the post and the same player also hit Lincoln's woodwork in the final 10 minutes of the match.

This match clearly provided the young Reds with a really good workout against a very decent League One side who are presently eight places above Rochdale, the club who faced our first team in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford last week.

MATCH DETAILS
   
United: Kovar; Puigmal, Bernard, Mengi, Devine; Levitt (Helm 74), Garner, Traore; Ramazani, Chong (Elanga 46), Galbraith.

Substitutes not used: Woolston, Fish, McCann, Hoogewerf, McGhee.

Scorer: Garner 20.

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