Manchester United’s Under-17s proved to be far too strong for Birmingham City as they cruised to a 6-0 victory in a friendly match at Leigh Sports Village Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Four goals to the good at the break, it could have been an even heavier defeat for the Blues but for an excellent performance from their keeper, Zach Jeacock.
This match brought the curtain down on 2017 for United’s Academy, of all age groups, before the club’s budding stars disperse for the Christmas break.
Happily, the mist that had engulfed Leigh Sports Village Stadium at Monday evening’s Premier League 2 fixture against Leicester City hadn’t returned and visibility was back to normal, while the playing surface appeared to be in pristine condition.
Eight of United’s starting line-up had already sampled action in the Under-18 Premier League, while all the youngsters on the bench could look back on at least one appearance at that level.
The game hadn’t been going for long when Mason Greenwood (pictured above) and Ethan Galbraith were both presented with good scoring opportunities in front of goal, but neither completed the task.
Shortly afterwards, United moved into the lead when a swift attack opened up the visitors’ defence and Galbraith had the last touch with a shot into the roof of the net.
Aliou Traore was given a great opportunity to double United’s lead when he collected an inch-perfect through-ball from Anthony Elanga, but he was thwarted when City keeper Jeacock dived to pull off a fine save.
Rhys Hilton was handed a golden chance to put Birmingham on terms but he completely miscued and the ball flew high over Jacob Carney’s crossbar. Moments later, Birmingham’s Tate Campbell was in a similar position be he also failed to take advantage.
Then, with the game seconds away from the half-time break, Traore scored at the far post to send us into the break with a clear lead.
United grabbed a fourth goal soon after restart, when Elanga raced on to Di’Shon Bernard’s pass before scoring with a low shot after holding off the attentions of a Birmingham defender.
The tide showed no signs of turning for the visitors as further goals Arnau Puigmal and Greenwood sealed a convincing win for Kieran McKenna’s side.
United: Carney; Elanga (Mengi 67), Bernard, Barrett, B.Williams (Levitt 78); Galbraith; McGhee, Puigmal, Traore, Ramazani (Greenwood 67); Mellor (Garner 78). Sub not used: Fojtícek.