Under-18s: Young Reds defeated by Rams

Saturday 27 February 2021 14:17

Manchester United Under-18s lost at home for the first time this season as Derby County came from behind to win 3-1.

Charlie McNeill struck the first blow for the Reds, who had a number of Under-16 players in the side, but the visitors equalised before half-time and then scored twice in the second period to take all three points.

It was Derby who created the first openings on a sunny afternoon at the Aon Training Complex, with Hugo Jinkinson scooping an effort over from a corner, before Cian Kelly had a speculative shot from the edge of the area.

Soon after, United's Spanish striker Alejandro Garnacho poked an effort towards goal that failed to test the Derby stopper. It proved to be a rare shooting opportunity for the Reds in the opening 30 minutes and it wasn’t long until the Rams came close to taking the lead when the ball dropped to Bart Cybulski in the box. However, Johan Guadagno flew off his line to smother the danger just as the Derby striker shot at goal.

Clear-cut chances were certainly at a premium in the first half an hour. On 21 minutes, the Rams’ Osazee Aghatise headed over from a cross and then Derby keeper Alfie Roberts held speculative efforts from United's Daniel Gore and Kobbie Mainoo.

As the first half went on, the Reds grew in stature, and Charlie McNeill made the improvement count on 36 minutes when he grabbed the first goal of the afternoon.
See how McNeill put the Reds ahead in the first half.
Minutes earlier, he had seen a shot go just wide and when he was played through on goal again, the attacker confidently struck on target, only to be denied by a sprawling Roberts save. Yet McNeill followed up to stroke the ball home and give the Reds the advantage.

United were suddenly on top at this stage, but our lead didn’t last long, as Malik Mothersille’s powerful effort beat Guadagno in the home goal a few minutes before the break. There were suggestions of handball from the Derby attacker in the build-up, but these were dismissed by the officials to ensure the score was level at half-time.

When the second period started, it was the visitors who began the quicker, and it took a smart save from Guadagno to prevent Maximilano Oyedele’s inadvertent touch ending up in his own net.

However, the United keeper was soon beaten for a second time in the game as Derby gained the lead. It was Courtney Clarke who got the final touch to a free-kick which was centred into the box, and he poked it in to put the Rams ahead.
Aghatise crashed a shot over from the edge of the box soon after, as the game turned a little scrappy for a spell, with a few breaks in play for minor injuries.

On 69 minutes, Sam Murray smashed a powerful strike from outside the box that flashed wide of the Derby goal, but a few moments later the Rams extended their advantage.

It was the impressive Aghatise who netted from a free-kick around 25 yards from goal, and his powerful and well-placed strike gave Guadagno no chance in the United goal.

Derby’s advantage continued into the latter stages, with a Charlie Savage free-kick proving to be our closest chance, while the visitors nearly scored a fourth goal through Marko Borkovic; it took a quick-reaction save from Guadagno to deny his shot inside the box.

The Rams managed the final minutes well at the Aon Training Complex, keeping possession in the United half without creating many chances, while the Reds picked up a few bookings for frustrated challenges.

The final whistle went soon after on a difficult afternoon for Ryan's young Reds, who had a number of regular players unavailable due to the Under-23s also being in action, away to Southampton. Next up for the Under-18s: a mouth-watering trip to Liverpool on Saturday 6 March.
The Reds may have lost but it was good to see U16 players gaining experience at U18 level.

United: Guadagno; Hughes (McAllister 21), Jackson, Hardley, Murray; Savage, Oyedele; Mainoo (Kilner 64), Gore (Mather 78), Garnacho; McNeill.

Substitutes not used: Wooster, Kingdon.

Goal: McNeill 36.

Booked: Kilner, Murray.