U18s report: Everton 0 United 2
Manchester United’s juniors consolidated our place at the top of the Premier League Under-18 North with a hard-earned 2-0 win over Everton at Finch Farm on Saturday.
Having leapfrogged Manchester City to go to the summit of the table after last Saturday’s 6-0 win over Sunderland, United’s kids were looking to cement our status as league leaders and first-half goals from Omari Forson and Will Fish saw the mission accomplished against Everton’s hard-working and talented group of young players.
Both teams looked to be in a hurry as the game unfolded at a frantic pace under cloudy skies on Merseyside. Neither of the sides was dominant during the opening moments of the game with the play continually switching from one end to the other and both Everton and United having promising excursions into opposition territory.
The Toffees were the first to threaten when, in the third minute, Charlie Whitaker picked out teammate Rafael Garcia with a fine forward pass. Striker Garcia looked odds-on to score, but his shot struck the foot of Johan Guadagno’s left post and was cleared by Fish.
Fifteen minutes later, and following a better spell of attacking play, United moved into the lead with a goal scored by Forson on his return from injury.
Charlie McNeill’s deft and defence-splitting pass played an integral part in the build-up, but Forson's finish was cool, calm and collected, especially considering this was his first game since November.
United were beginning to stamp our mark on the proceedings but the home side continued to carry a threat when they attacked and Whitaker was given a golden opportunity to level the scores, in the 33rd minute.
Garcia’s persistence saw him take the ball from Guadagno and he played in his team-mate, but the final shot sailed wildly over the bar.
With half-time beckoning, United made it 2-0 when Fish’s header squirmed into the net between the post and Everton ‘keeper Jack Barrett after the defender had met Charlie Savage’s looping corner at the far post.
Everton made a determined effort to get themselves back in the game with a series of swift attacks as the second half began and they very nearly succeeded in their quest when Daniel Lowey’s left-wing cross was almost forced over the line by his skipper, Sean McAllister.
The Toffees continued to look dangerous and United’s defence responded well to preserve our valuable two-goal lead, with Guadagno saving well from Garcia at his near post.
That isn’t to say that United’s attack was inactive and we could have stretched the two-goal lead more than once.
Forson went closest to claiming United’s third goal, with our no.11 shooting just wide following a darting run into the Everton penalty area.
But ultimately those two first-half goals were enough to send the Reds five points clear - at least temporarily - of our crosstown rivals.
United: Guadagno; Wellens, Fish, Svidersky, Jurado; Hansen, Gore (Hoogewerf 62), Savage (Mainoo 46); Emeran, McNeill, Forson.
Subs not used: Vitek, Murray, Norkett.
Goals: Forson 18, Fish 44.