Manchester United Under-18 players celebrate the winning goal against West Brom in the Premier League Cup

Under-18s: Reds show character in cup comeback

Manchester United’s Academy youngsters brought our Under-18 Premier League Cup campaign to a close with a 3-2 away win over West Bromwich Albion.

In an incident-packed game at Albion's training complex near Walsall, the Reds fought back from a two-goal deficit with Charlie McCann scoring two penalties before the break and Omari Forson grabbing the winner thirteen minutes from time.

This was a curious fixture for the young Reds to approach in so much as we could have won by a cricket score and it would have done nothing to alter the situation that we had already been eliminated from the competition.
Manchester United and West Brom players compete for the ball in the Under-18 Premier League Cup
The format of the competition sees the winners of its six groups progress whilst the two best runners-up, with the highest points tally, also moving forward to the knockout stage. Having drawn earlier games against Leicester City and, last Saturday, Brighton & Hove Albion, United were left unable to gain the required number of points to go through.

On the other hand, West Brom knew that they could still claim a place in the next phase with a high-scoring win over the Reds and the fashion in which they launched themselves into the contest suggested they really were on a mission.
When barely eight minutes had elapsed, United appeared to be in for a difficult and testing game as the Baggies raced into a two-goal lead. Both of their strikes, the second from the penalty spot, came from the boot of Finley Thorndike.

It was a whirlwind start from the West Midlands side and could have been even more painful for United but for Ondrej Mastny’s spectacular goalkeeping.
The Reds gradually grew into the game and, with a greater share of ball retention, chances started to arrive. Remarkably, in the space of just nine minutes, United moved on to level terms after referee James Cox awarded two spot-kicks to Neil Ryan's side.

McCann, the skipper, took the responsibility of converting them both and beat the Baggies’ goalkeeper Jamie Emery with a couple of shots that found the net in contrasting directions.

Just a couple of minutes later, McCann could quite easily have completed a rapid hat-trick for he was presented with a great opportunity right in front of goal but couldn’t keep his shot down.

The second half followed the pattern set earlier with both sides majoring on the offensive and ‘keepers Mastny and Emery earning plaudits for their efforts.

Realistically, the result could have gone either way, but it was United who claimed the fifth goal of the afternoon, in the 73rd minute, when Deji Sotona set up substitute Omari Forson to force the ball over the line.

There were no further additions to the scoresheet and the Reds' involvement in the Premier League Cup therefore ended with five points from three games and an unbeaten run in Group F.

MATCH DETAILS

United: Mastny; Hughes, Fish, Denham, Dodgson; McCann, Iqbal (Forson 61), Mejbri (Svidersky 46); Wellens, Sotona, Shoretire (Neville 85).

Substitutes not used: Mee, Hockenhull.

Scorers: West Brom - Thorndike 5, 8 pen | United - McCann 24 pen, 33 pen, Forson 77.

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