Tahith Chong’s goal five minutes into the second half of this Premier League 2 match raised hopes that Manchester United's Under-23s were on course to end a recent run of unfavourable results, but Tottenham Hotspur hit back to score three times in eleven minutes to claim an impressive victory.
United’s starting line-up showed four changes from the team’s last outing against Spurs’ North London neighbours at Borehamwood. The Reds came unstuck in that fixture, losing 4-0 to Arsenal, so it was no huge surprise to see Ricky Sbragia shuffle his pack.
Chong and defender Lee O’Connor were called up from Kieran McKenna’s Under-18s side to make their Under-23 debuts along with Aidan Barlow, Nishan Burkart and, fresh from his cameo appearance against Yeovil Town last Friday, Angel Gomes.
This was the first of three Under-23 matches that United are obligated to play at Old Trafford each season and there was a modest crowd gathered in the lower tier of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand as the game got under way.
United were defending the Stretford End in the first half, but it was at the other end where the first real action occurred when Ethan Hamilton tested Spurs’ keeper Alfie Whiteman with a well-struck shot from outside the area.
The match took a little time to get rolling, but it eventually developed into a really feisty contest with referee Andrew Miller kept busy with his whistle.
Spurs were given the opportunity to take the lead in the 35th minute, when Tyrell Warren was penalised for a challenge in United’s 18-yard box. Miller immediately pointed to the spot and Spurs striker Kazaiah Sterling stepped up to take responsibility, but his nicely struck shot wasn’t good enough to beat Joel Pereira, who pulled off a fine save.
United were inches from finding the net shortly before the break when Indy Boonen’s header, from Warren’s cross, struck the woodwork to leave the game goalless after 45 minutes.
The Reds were really faced with an uphill task twenty minutes from the end when Sterling made amends for his earlier failure from the penalty spot when he smashed home Spurs’ third goal.
Sbragia introduced three substitutes in Tosin Kehinde, Darren McIntosh-Buffonge and Nishan Burkart late in the game, but by then his team had too much to do to avoid a third defeat in three matches in 2018.
United: J. Pereira; Warren, R-S Williams, O’Connor, Riley; Hamilton, Barlow (Burkart 73); Chong, Gomes (McIntosh-Buffonge 79), Boonen (Kehinde 70); Bohui. Substitutes not used: Olosunde, O’Hara.