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Tahith Chong in action against Tottenham Under-23s

U23s: Manchester United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3

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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.

Angel Gomes
Angel Gomes made his U23s debut, three days after coming on as a sub for the first team.

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.

Joel Pereira saves Kazaiah Sterling's first-half penalty.
Joel Pereira made a fine save to keep out Kazaiah Sterling's first-half penalty.
The Reds moved into the lead five minutes into the second half when a defensive error allowed Chong to intercept the ball before beating Whiteman with a confident finish. 
Tahith Chong scores with a composed finish
Chong broke the deadlock early in the second half.
However, the advantage was to last less than three minutes before the visitors capitalised on a loose ball in United’s penalty area to claim the leveller through Keanan Bennetts. Worse was to follow soon after when Spurs’ Jack Roles put his side in front with a tap-in after snatching the ball from Pereira’s feet.

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.
Ricky Sbragia and Tyrell Warren
Ricky Sbragia looks on as Tyrell Warren takes a throw-in.

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.

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