U21s: United v Arsenal

Friday 31 March 2023 21:05

Manchester United's Under-21s drew 1-1 with Arsenal at Old Trafford on Friday evening, after the Reds and the Gunners played out a competitive draw under the lights.

Both goals came in the first half, with Arsenal forward Khayon Edwards handing the visitors the lead just after the 20-minute mark, catching United goalkeeper Elyh Harrison in possession before slotting home from close range.

The Reds replied almost immediately, with Dan Gore's surging run and pass providing a golden opportunity for Mateo Mejia, who volleyed into the the back of the net to draw our Under-21s level.

Following the interval, clear-cut chances were at a premium, with Charles Sagoe Jr going closest for the Gunners when he struck the post before Ethan Williams saw a well-struck effort parried for United.

Despite the best efforts of both sides, the resilience of the two defences was evident and the spoils were shared.

Elyh Harrison made a string of important saves across the evening to keep United in the fixture.

Harrison, playing for the very first time for the Under-21s, made a smart save just five minutes into the contest, getting down low to hold a goalbound strike from Arsenal striker Edwards.

Just moments later, the goalkeeper again came to United's rescue when he made a superb stop to his left to deny Sagoe Jr, who had cut inside well from the right.

United had a first sight of goal with 10 minutes on the clock, when Williams' cross found its way to Jack Kingdon at the far post, but the Reds full-back struck a left-footed effort over the crossbar.

After a relatively even first 20 minutes, the visitors took the lead when Edwards caught Harrison on the ball, under pressure, to steal it away from him and slot home.

But the Reds weren't down for long, with captain Gore leading by example to carry the ball all the way from his own box to the final third, before releasing Mejia in behind the Arsenal defence. Mejia connected with Gore's pass with a stretching volley back across goal, beating Gunners goalkeeper Hubert Graczyk to draw United level.

Just after the half-hour mark the visitors almost restored their lead when Mauro Bandeira was found by Lino Sousa's low cross, but the Arsenal midfielder fired his effort over the bar from close range.

But as half-time approached, it was the Reds who were on top. Following a powerful run and blocked shot from Omari Forson, the ball fell to winger Williams, who flashed an effort narrowly wide of the Gunners' goal.

Harrison was once more called into action at the end of the first half, saving well from Sagoe Jr after the winger was sent through on goal. The stop from the United goalkeeper ensured the sides went in level at the break.

Mateo Mejia celebrates after drawing the Reds level.

The opening stages of the second half were cagey, but it was the visitors who went closest to edging ahead when Sagoe Jr broke in behind and shot a low effort past Harrison, only to be thwarted by the foot of the post.

United responded, with Williams cutting inside expertly from the left before seeing his shot parried by Graczyk.

Chances were few and far between during as the second period progressed, with both sides seemingly cancelling one another out.

Ethan Williams went close for the Reds shortly after the restart.

As the match entered its final knockings, the Gunners began to turn the screw in an effort to find the winner. A low shot from Sousa was cleared by the impressive Willy Kambwala, while a combination of good defending and commanding goalkeeping from Harrison kept the visitors at bay.

Amario Cozier-Duberry almost grabbed a second for Arsenal late on, but his shot fizzed wide of post.

The Reds looked to create openings in the closing stages too, but the visitors' defence remained firm to ensure the spoils were shared at the Theatre of Dreams, on a night where both sets of players gained invaluable experience playing in the iconic stadium.

Willy Kambwala's dominant defensive display was one of many positives for the young Reds on Friday evening.


Harrison; Kingdon, Kambwala, Jackson (Jurado 46), Murray; Gore (c), Huddlestone; Emeran (Hansen-Aaroen 46), Forson (Norkett 88), Williams (Wellens 67); Mejia.

Subs not used: 

Goals: Mejia 23.

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