Harvey Neville.

Youngsters blown off course at Morecambe

Manchester United's youngsters were beaten 4-0 at Morecambe in our final Papa John's Group B game but had already assured a top-two place in the table beforehand.

The wind at the coastal ground was clocked at 76 miles-per-hour soon after kick-off and the Reds lost our way in the first half in difficult playing conditions.

Ryan Cooney scored twice within four minutes before Harry Davis added a third ahead of the interval. Although Neil Wood's side stemmed the tide, Freddie Price made it 4-0 just past the hour-mark to complete our first defeat in Group B. 

Nonetheless, qualification was already assured, behind Salford City, with the draw for the knock-out stages taking place on Friday.

Facundo Pellistri.
Facundo Pellistri tries to close the ball down in the first half.

The Reds started brightly and forced Mark Halstead into rushing out to block Arnau Puigmal, and also JoeHugill from the follow-up, following a neat through-ball by Hannibal. However, that proved to be the only time the home keeper was tested in the first half as the conditions, and forceful play by Morecambe, upset the youngsters.

Teden Mengi survived a penalty shout after a challenge on Cole Stockton but things were pretty even until the 24th minute, when Cooney cut inside Harvey Neville and curled a shot beyond Paul Woolston and into the far corner of the net.

Cooney was at it again, four minutes later, going solo by running through a rather static defence to slip past Woolston after things opened up for the left-sided operator. With their tails up, the Shrimps kept up the pressure and, although Woolston denied Stockton, Davis stabbed in a third from an Aaron Wilding corner, with Reece Devine floored and appealing in vain for a foul.

Woolston's one-handed save thwarted John O'Sullivan before Stockton hit the bar, and had a header disallowed for offside, as the half-time whistle could not come quickly enough for the Reds, offering a chance to regroup and clear our heads.

United steadied the ship after the break but the strong wind continued to restrict any attempts to get the usual flowing passing going on a bitter night.

Price lashed a shot over the bar on the hour, which sparked a response by the Reds as Shola Shoretire produced a similar effort at the other end, after displaying nice footwork.

Seconds later, Stockton passed inside to Price and he took his time to work an angle before clipping a finish in off a post. Woolston dived to deny Price his second on 68 minutes and the keeper outfoxed the same player in a one-on-one by sticking up a big glove to paw away an attempted chip.

Anthony Elanga was lively on the right after coming off the bench and Puigmal's deflected free-kick could have sneaked in for a consolation towards the end.

Arnau Puigmal.
Arnau Puigmal's mustered a couple of United's attempts on goal.

MATCH DETAILS

United: Woolston; Neville (Elanga 61), Fish, Mengi, Devine (Bejger 78); McCann (Helm 78), Hannibal, Puigmal; Pellistri, Hugill, Shoretire.

Subs not used: Carney, Fernandez, Hardley, Stanley.

Goals: Cooney 24,28 Davis 34, Price 62.

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