Manchester United’s Under-23s continued their encouraging and unbeaten start to the season with a narrow 1-0 victory over Stoke City at Old Trafford on Friday evening.
There was small gathering of supporters, housed in the lower tier of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, as the game got underway with United defending a deserted Stretford End.
The crowd may have been sparse but they were given a pleasant surprise when on reading the teamsheet and seeing Argentinian international goalkeeper Sergio Romero alongside Portuguese new-boy Diogo Dalot, who was making his first appearance in the famous red shirt.
This was the second consecutive Friday that Stoke City had despatched a team to face United in Manchester and they were certainly hoping for a better outcome than their Under-18 side experienced a week ago, when they were defeated 5-1 at The Cliff.
And this was also the second meeting of the season between these two sides following the friendly/training game at City’s Clayton Wood, which ended in a 2-2 draw.
The visitors had their best chance up to that point, shortly after the half-hour mark, when skipper Jake Dunwoody tested Romero’s reflexes with a fierce drive from the edge of the penalty area.
Moments later, and United found themselves in front when Gomes hit the net following a one-two with Nishan Burkart. Something was needed to break the deadlock and Gomes provided just that with a peach of goal to give United the edge.
Romero was back in action immediately after the restart diving full length to black a shot from Stoke winger Daniel Jarvis.
Charlie Adam, Stoke’s 32-year-old Scottish international midfielder (a maximum of two over-age players are permitted in the under-23 league) started to pull the strings for the visitors and as a result they enjoyed a good spell of possession.
They couldn’t turn the pressure into goals, but it sent a clear message to United that they still had a battle on their if they were going to claim their second victory of the season.
Newcomer Dalot left the field, with eleven minutes remaining, to warm applause from the crowd.
United: Romero; Dalot (Tanner 79), Poole, Williams R-S., O’Connor; Garner, Gomes, Hamilton; Burkart, (McIntosh-Buffonge 71), Bohui (Barlow 56), Chong.
Substitutes not used: Kovar, Whelan.
Scorer: Gomes 37.