Mark Helm.

Manchester United Under-21s hit six at Salford

Manchester United's youngsters began the 2020/21 season in a positive manner by beating Salford City 6-0 in our EFL Trophy opener.

Hannibal and Arnau Puigmal grabbed goals in the first half for an Under-21s side, before Mark Helm (2), Charlie McCann and Anthony Elanga netted in the second period.

It was a lively beginning for the visitors at the Peninsula Stadium and James Garner nearly opened the scoring within the first few minutes when his free-kick on the edge of the area sailed just wide of Nick Hayles’s far post.

However, the Salford keeper was left stranded, moments later, as Hannibal smashed the ball into the hosts’ goal. The Frenchman was slipped in by Garner and he unleashed a powerful effort just inside the box which flew into the back of net.

Garner was really pulling the strings in the centre of the park and he soon provided an inch-perfect pass for Puigmal. The winger then cut inside, but dragged his shot just wide.

The Spaniard was involved again in United’s next attack, when his through ball set Ethan Laird free inside the box. The full-back’s cross sat up perfectly for Elanga, whose volley smashed off the Salford crossbar, before Puigmal fired the rebound wide.

Highlights: Salford v United U21Video

After such a strong opening by United, Salford began to find their footing in the encounter and created a number of half-chances, the best of which - Tom Elliott’s header - was comfortably held by Reds keeper Nathan Bishop on his debut.

Despite that, the Reds were still in the ascendancy and the ball was back in the Salford net just before the half-hour mark via Helm. However, the young striker was rightly ruled offside in the build-up.

United didn’t let that disappointment dampen our spirits, and, within minutes, we’d doubled the lead. Elanga capitalised on the hosts’ high defensive line and flew down the right wing, before picking out a perfectly placed Puigmal, who calmly slotted the ball home from a few yards out.

The Reds continued to come close with several dangerous crosses and Laird fired a shot over the bar around the 40-minute mark.

Salford’s Richie Towell had the last chance of note in the opening period, but his driven shot from outside the area flew wide of Bishop’s far post.

However, it was Neil Wood’s youngsters who came out of the traps quickest in the second half, and it took under two minutes to grab a third goal.

Hannibal’s superb in-swinging cross was met by a combination of Hayes’s punch and Helm’s back to extend our lead, although it was the latter who appeared to get the last touch on the ball.

A wonderful night for United had one low point in the early stages of the second half, when Laird appeared to pick up a hamstring injury and was replaced by Max Taylor.

After a quieter period, the Reds suddenly sprung back into life with three goals in five minutes. It was McCann who got us started with a powerful strike from the edge of the box.

Anthony Elanga.
Anthony Elanaga put in a great performance down the flanks.
Moments later, Garner drove through the centre and provided an excellent ball for Helm just inside the area. The striker calmly took a touch and slotted it past a helpless Hayes.

And then it was six, this time with Elanga getting a richly deserved goal to cap off an excellent night’s work, when he placed the ball into the far right-hand corner after being released by Hannibal.

The Reds kept knocking at the door, with Helm denied a hat-trick by a covering defender’s clearance, before Garner crashed a shot just centimetres wide.

They proved to be the last opportunities of the night for United, on a superb maiden outing of the 2020/21 campaign.

MATCH DETAILS

Salford: Hayes; Golden, Doyle, Turnball, Loughlan; Towell, Denny, Hawkins (Ditchfield 80); Wilson, Elliott (M.Touray 73), Thomas-Asante (Shepherd 80).

Subs not used: Evans, I. Touray, Armstrong, Threlkeld.

Booked: Doyle, Denny.

United: Bishop; Laird (Taylor 57) Fish, Bernard, Mengi (c); McCann, Garner, Hannibal (Stanley 80); Puigmal (Haygarth 46), Helm, Elanga.

Subs not used: Mastny, Ercolani, Galbraith, Neville.

Scorers: Hannibal 8, Puigmal 28, Helm 47,73, McCann 71, Elanga 75.

Booked: Hannibal.

Get ready for next season. Our 2020/21 home and away kits are available now from United Direct.

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