Harvey Neville.

Under-23s beaten in first outing of 2021

Monday 18 January 2021 21:17

Manchester United’s Under-23s emerged from our first Premier League 2 Division One game of 2021 having battled well against Leicester City before ultimately going down to a 4-2 defeat.

Leicester led by two early goals early but United rallied well, with two goals from Anthony Elanga ensuring we were on terms at half-time.

Two further goals from the home side proved to be too much of obstacle for United and the disappointment was compounded as we lost Elanga through injury early in the second half.

This fixture represented a really special occasion for the East Midlands club as it was the first-ever competitive match to be staged at their sparkling new Seagrave Training Complex which has been built to the north of the city. Which explains why this was Leicester’s only second Under-23s match to be played at home since the season commenced in September as they waited for the new facility to be completed.

And the Foxes wasted no time in settling to their new surroundings for, within a minute of the first whistle, they had bagged their first goal at Seagrave.

Elanga finds the corner! Video

Elanga finds the corner!

See how Anthony Elanga pulled a goal back for United Under-23s at Leicester...

Reds keeper Matej Kovar, back in the fold after a loan spell with Swindon Town, uncharacteristically under-hit a pass and Leicester’s Jake Wakeling got to the ball first before releasing it to Callum Wright, who made the most of United’s early lapse.

It was most certainly not the way United wanted to return to action following nearly a month on the sidelines and our prospects worsened, in the 14th minute, when Thai winger Thanawat Suengchitthawon made his way in from the left before hitting an angled shot that looked to take a deflection before crossing the line.

Neil Wood’s lads had given themselves a lot to do but, happily, what seemed to be a long road back was halved two minutes later when Hannibal sent Elanga away down the left. A posse of Leicester defenders gave chase but the Reds’ flying winger kept his nerve to find the net off the far post.

A quick riposte was just what United needed and it provided us with a vital boost with the game still in its early stages. In terms of possession there had been little in it and that balance of play was extended throughout the first half. So it was no real shock when, in the first minute of added time, the Reds levelled the scores.

And Hannibal was involved again when he supplied Harvey Neville with another fine pass, which the young full-back accepted without altering step. Neville's driven cross was met with a telling touch by Elanga and the teams were level going into the break.

United’s delight at gaining parity before the interval was soon diluted after the restart when, within two minutes, we again found ourselves in arrears after Wakeling ran onto a long ball and looped his shot over Kovar’s outstretched arms.

Six minutes later, United suffered another blow when Elanga, the Reds’ most potent attacker, was helped from the field with what appeared to be an extremely painful shoulder injury after a heavy challenge.

It proved to be a pivotal moment for United as our fluency and sharpness appeared to recede but there was a great double chance when substitute Mark Helm was kept out by Jakub Stolarczyk but latched onto the rebound to tee up Joe Hugill. Unfortunately, the striker's finish lacked power and Stolarczyk saved again.

Within a matter of seconds, Suengchiihawon claimed his second goal by firing home after latching onto Will Fish's attempted headed clearance. Wakeling hit the outside of a post and Helm had another shot saved by Stolarczyk as the Foxes ran out 4-2 victors.

Anthony at it again! Video

Anthony at it again!

Anthony Elanga hauls United Under-23s level before half-time at Leicester...


United: Kovar; Neville, Fish,  Mengi (c), Devine; Levitt, Hannibal, Galbraith; Shoretire, Hugill (McCann 72), Elanga (Helm 53).

Substitutes not used: Mastny, Stanley.

Scorers: Wright 1, Suengchitthawon 14, 71 Wakeling 47 | Elanga 16, 45+1.