U21s: Leicester City v United

Monday 17 April 2023 21:40

Manchester United Under-21s twice showed the character to come from behind but were beaten 3-2 in Monday's Premier League 2 Division One clash with Leicester City following a stoppage-time winner.

The encounter at the Foxes' training ground saw our young Reds net levellers either side of half-time, through Sonny Aljofree and Mateo Mejia. 

Chris Popov had opened the scoring in the third minute for the home side, before Tawanda Maswanhise's first-half goal saw Leicester retake the lead and go in ahead at the break. 

Mejia's 79th-minute effort looked to have earned us a point until Brandon Cover netted the all-important goal in the second minute of stoppage time. Both sides would finish the game with 10 players, following red cards for Leicester's Deniche Hill and Reds defender Willy Kambwala shortly after the winner.

Aljofree (right) netted the first of the young Reds' goals on the evening.


Our young Reds were dealt an early challenge to overcome, following a third-minute opener for the home side. Popov's pressing high up the pitch paid dividends, as his tackle on goalkeeper Nathan Bishop saw the ball roll into the net, making it 1-0.

Despite the hosts' fast start, United rallied and began to enjoy some success down the flanks. Bjorn Hardley powered forward on the left and reached the byline, before cutting a ball back in the direction of Omari Forson, which was intercepted just before the winger could reach it. Moments later, Forson did get an attempt off, but it was well blocked. 

Mark Dempsey's team were rewarded with an equaliser on 21 minutes though, when defender Aljofree was on hand to find the net, getting the key touch on a loose ball inside the penalty area. 

Shortly after, his centre-back partner Kambwala deserved applause for a brilliant tackle on Popov, denying a goalscoring opportunity, but the hosts did restore their lead in the minutes that followed through a curling strike from Maswanhise.

Looking to level the scores for the second time in the evening, Charlie Wellens and Toby Collyer - along with the lively Forson - went close to making it 2-2 before half-time, but the young Foxes were to maintain their slight advantage going into the break. They too had been not far off scoring again in the first half, but Bishop superbly denied a deflected effort from Zach Booth before Popov struck the woodwork in the closing stages of the half.


With the 10-minute mark approaching in the second 45, Bishop pulled off an impressive stop to keep the deficit at one. The young goalkeeper, who was among the substitutes for United's 2-0 win at Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Sunday, denied Wayna Marcal following a quick counter-attack.

At the other end, as the game passed the hour mark, Mejia had an opportunity to draw the Reds level. The move started on the right-hand side, with Forson finding the forward, who couldn't quite keep his effort on target. 

Maswanhise, who had netted what was the decisive goal up to that point, struck a free-kick just wide with just over 20 minutes left to play.

And with just over 10 to go, United made it 2-2. A probing ball over the top of the Leicester defence from Kambwala was latched on to by Mejia, who made the most of the chance to draw us level for the second time in the evening, with a calm finish.

That goal looked to have earned a point until two minutes into stoppage time, when Bobby Amartey found Brandon Cover, who kept his composure when one-on-one with Bishop, chipping the ball beyond the goalkeeper and into the net to win all three points for the young Foxes. Following a coming together shortly after, Hill and Kambwala were each shown a red card, meaning both sides finished the game down to 10 players.

United are back in PL2 action on Friday, away to Brighton.


United: Bishop; Wellens, Kambwala, Aljofree, Hardley; Gore (c), Collyer; Forson, Hansen-Aaroen, Emeran; Mejia. 

Subs not used: Wooster (GK), Nolan, Norkett, Murray.

Goals: Popov 3, Maswanhise 28, Cover 90+2 | Aljofree 22, Mejia 79.

Red cards: Hill 90+6 | Kambwala 90+5.