U18s: Leeds v United

Saturday 04 March 2023 14:45

Manchester United Under-18s shared the points with Leeds United at Thorp Arch Training Ground, after the two sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw.

James Nolan's strike cancelled out an unfortunate early own goal from team-mate Habeeb Ogunneye in the first half, while Victor Musa was kept at bay both by the post and Leeds goalkeeper Rory Mahady at the end of the opening 45 minutes.

Our young Reds did take the lead just before the hour, thanks to a composed finish from Ethan Williams and substitute Gabriele Biancheri made it 3-1 when he finished inside the near post five minutes from time.

However, Leeds striker Ben Andreucci immediately pulled one back before equalising in stoppage time to deny United all three points in Yorkshire.

Jayce Fitzgerald patrols the midfield.

United started the game brightly and might have gone ahead inside just three minutes. Williams whipped in a menacing left-footed free-kick in from the right flank, which was glanced just wide of the far post.

Despite the young Reds' positive opening stages, Ogunneye's mis-controlled clearance from a Connor Douglas cross flew beyond Elyh Harrison to give Leeds the lead after nine minutes.

It was an unfortunate moment for the young full-back, but he and his team-mates continued in a positive vein, with Bendito Mantato driving forward to find James Scanlon, who was adjudged to have strayed narrowly offside.

Leeds continued to carry a threat on the counter, though, as Andreucci led a charge down the left and found Douglas in space with an outside-of-the-foot pass, but Harrison made himself big to keep out his effort from close range.

But the young Reds only grew stronger as the half progressed and deservedly drew level in the 26th minute. Williams combined well with Scanlon to move inside from the left, and found Nolan on the opposite side of the box, who drilled his shot into the far corner with the help of a touch from Leeds defender Dan Toulson.

It was all United from there for the remainder of the first half, with Musa in particular seeing a number of chances before the break. The forward first latched onto a Nolan pass through the centre but was kept at bay as Mahady quickly came off his line to save his shot.

On the stroke of half-time, Musa struck the post and then saw a shot blocked by Scott Godden, with the Leeds defender ensuring the sides went in level at the break.

James Nolan struck across goal for our first-half equaliser.

Leeds began the second half with plenty of energy and twice went close within five minutes of the restart, as Luca Thomas curled a shot just off target, and Andreucci saw an effort cleared off the line.

But United quickly regrouped, hitting the woodwork for a second time seven minutes into the second half, as Scanlon’s header rebounded off the underside of the crossbar.

The young Reds did take the lead just before the hour-mark as Musa skilfully worked his way past Godden and Toulson down the right flank and poked the ball across the face for Williams, who controlled quickly and squeezed it past Mahady to score.

Then came a triple substitution, as Ethan Wheatley, Manni Norkett and Biancheri were introduced for the final 30 minutes. The former tested Mahady with a side-footed effort within his seconds of his arrival, and Leeds went close at the other end as Harrison saved well from Andreucci, who also had a goal ruled out for offside moments later.

Ethan Williams took inspiration from Marcus Rashford for his celebration, after giving United a second-half lead.

Louis Jackson went agonisingly close to extending United's lead 15 minutes from time, but he was inches away from meeting a dangerous corner-kick delivery from Williams.

But 10 minutes later, substitutes Wheatley and Biancheri combined to make it 3-1. The former spread the play to the latter in space on the right, and although Biancheri's initial shot was blocked, he followed in with a clever finish inside the near post to extend the young Reds' lead.

Just as United looked to have found some breathing room, the hosts immediately hit back, as Andreucci capitalised on a loose touch from Harrison to shoot into an empty net from the edge of the box.

The Leeds striker struck again in the second minute of stoppage time, getting on the end of Marley Wilson's cross to nod beyond Harrison and haul the hosts level.

There was a late opportunity for Williams to reinstate United's lead in dramatic fashion at the death, but his shot was blocked. The match finished level, and both sides had to settle for a point.

Gabriele Biancheri made it 3-1 with five minutes to go.


United XI: Harrison, Ogunneye (Wheatley, 60), Kingdon, Jackson (c), Mantato, Berry, Fitzgerald, Nolan, Scanlon (Biancheri, 60), Williams, Musa (Norkett, 60).

Subs not used: Myles, Kamason.

Goals: Nolan 26, Williams 59, Biancheri 85.

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