Under-23s: Derby County 1 Manchester United 1
Manchester United's Under-23s had to settle for a share of the points against Derby County on Sunday, despite leading through Devonte Redmond’s 25th-minute penalty.
Derby fought back after the break to equalise through Lewis Walker and deny United in their quest for maximum points after three straight defeats at the start of 2018.
It was a bright, sunny, but chilly afternoon at St. George’s Park, the England team’s training ground in Derbyshire, as this Premier League 2 fixture got under way.
This game was taking place just 24 hours after the clubs’ Under-18 sides had met at the Aon Training Complex, with United running out 6-3 winners in a richly entertaining contest.
The kick-off, appropriately on the complex’s 'Bobby Charlton Pitch', was preceded by a minute’s silence in tribute to all those who were involved in the Munich Air Disaster, which occurred 60 years ago on Tuesday.
United welcomed back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to partner Luca Ercolani in the centre of defence following his loan spell with Leeds United.
It was a lot to hope for a match to equal the previous day’s nine-goal thriller, but both teams set about their task in a purposeful manner from the first whistle.
Tahith Chong, on the right wing, immediately caught the eye with his pace, energy and willingness to take on the Derby defence.
And it was the Dutch youngster's speed that led to United taking the lead midway through the first half, when his progress into the Derby penalty area was abruptly halted by defender Alex Cover.
The referee pointed to the spot and, after Chong had returned to his feet, Redmond stepped up to plant the ball neatly into the Derby net.
The home side had a couple of excellent opportunities to put themselves on level terms, but both Sven Karic and Alex Babos failed to convert their chances.
Eleven minutes into the second half, though, Derby found the equaliser when striker Walker leapt to head home a cross from the left wing.
And the Rams almost took the lead a few minutes later when Joe Bateman’s cracking strike fizzed past the post.
Derby were reduced to 10 men in the 72nd minute, when Cameron Cresswell was given his marching orders after being shown a second yellow card for handball.
The imbalance in personnel wasn’t apparent in the time that remained, as the game swung from one end to the other, but there were no further goals and, at the final whistle, the 1-1 scoreline was a fair reflection of the game as Ricky Sbragia's side claimed a first point of the new year.
United: O’Hara; Riley, Ercolani, Borthwick-Jackson, Olosunde; Sang (Traore 78); Chong, Redmond, Whelan, Kehinde (Buffonge 80); Dearnley. Substitutes not used: Kenyon, Richardson, Mellor.