James Garner shoots against Doncaster Rovers

U23s: Doncaster Rovers 5 United 0

Manchester United’s Under-23s endured a challenging afternoon in South Yorkshire on Thursday, when they were beaten 5-0 by a strong Doncaster Rovers outfit.

Three goals for the hosts during the opening 32 minutes quickly made the contest an uphill struggle for Neil Wood’s side, who showed glimpses of their quality in possession but failed to find their cutting edge in the final third.
 
Manager Wood made a raft of changes at half-time, and the Reds toiled manfully in trying to find a route back into the game, but a powerful strike from Rovers midfielder Madger Gomes just before the hour-mark ended all but the faintest hopes of a revival.
 
A fifth goal for the home team followed just before the final whistle, when stalwart midfielder James Coppinger found the corner of the net with a fine curled finish.

Top 10 Under-23s goals of 2019/20Video

Despite the final scoreline, it was United, clad in the club’s new 'legend earth green' away kit, who started the brighter at the Keepmoat Stadium.

A promising burst down the right from Ethan Laird resulted in a cross which found its way to James Garner, but the midfielder’s strike from the edge of the area was well saved by Donny goalkeeper Louis Jones.
 
On seven minutes, Rovers caught the Reds on the break and took the lead. A counterattack through the middle led by Taylor Richards set Jon Taylor away on the right, and the winger’s low shot crept underneath United stopper Jacob Carney.
Further chances for Fejiri Okenabirhie and Taylor came close to doubling the lead, but it was one of Doncaster’s triallists who eventually found their second, heading home Taylor’s free-kick at the far post. Then a fine strike from outside the box earned Taylor his second of the match, just after the half-hour mark. 
 
A Garner effort which flew just wide almost pulled one back for the Reds, and Arnau Puigmal had a shot blocked as half-time approached, but a physical Rovers side were well worth their lead at the interval.
Wood made six changes for the second period as United looked to reduce the damage, and the substitutes did have an impact, helping the Reds to grow in authority.
 
But again it was the Yorkshire side who made their attacking play count. Their fourth, from Gomes, was crashed past Ondrej Mastny from around the penalty spot.
 
Again United responded well to disappointment. Taylor, McCann and Puigmal each went close to pulling one back and the pressure continued as Puigmal found the side-netting with a free-kick from around 25 yards out. When Elanga was fouled on 71 minutes, it was Mejbri’s turn to try from range, but he could only find the Doncaster wall.
Hannibal Mejbri tries to help the Reds back into the game, after coming on as a second-half substitute.
There were further half-chances for Puigmal, who saw his attempt blocked, and Garner, who flashed a free-kick over, but 39-year-old veteran Coppinger delivered the final moment of note when he swept Doncaster’s fifth past Mastny. 
 
That concluded a trying afternoon for the Under-23s but, despite the punishing scoreline, the Reds played some promising passing football and should benefit significantly from a sobering encounter against stronger and more senior opponents.

United:
Carney (Mastny 46); Laird, Fish (Taylor 46), Bernard (Mengi 46), Ercolani (Neville 45); Garner (c), McCann, Puigmal; Haygarth (Mejbri 46), Helm, Stanley (Elanga 46).
 
Subs not used: Devine.

Additional reporting by Steve Bennett, MUTV.
 

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