Under-18s: Stoke 1 United 4
Manchester United’s Under-18s secured a fine victory over Stoke City at Clayton Wood on Tuesday afternoon.
This was the youngsters' first league fixture in almost two months, but we were soon back into our stride with two goals from Mason Greenwood and one apiece for D’Mani Mellor and captain Brandon Williams.
The sun was shining in the Potteries and the conditions were almost perfect for this Under-18 Premier League North clash. Despite this being a normal working day and a 13:00 GMT kick-off, there was a decent turn-out which included scouts from various clubs and a small battalion of Stoke’s backroom staff.
United head coach Neil Ryan was forced to make an early change to his line-up when Arnau Puigmal suffered a back injury and was replaced by Anthony Elanga. Ethan Galbraith, who started on the right wing, dropped back into Puigmal’s full-back spot with Elanga joining the fray in midfield.There was little in the way of goalmouth action during the opening exchanges but, in the 13th minute, an inch perfect through ball form Dylan Levitt sent Greenwood racing towards goal and, within seconds, he had swept past goalkeeper Nathan Broome before shooting into an unguarded net. United, in all blue to avoid a clash with the Potters’ red and white stripes, weren’t having it all our own way and only resolute defending prevented the home side from claiming an equaliser.
Shortly before the half-hour mark, United very nearly increased the lead but Mellor was denied when his shot brought an excellent save from Broome. Keeper Broome was Stoke’s saviour again, in the 36th minute, when he made a spectacular one-handed save to stop Greenwood’s arrowing free-kick. The Reds were enjoying a good spell as half-time loomed and, but for Broome and his defenders, Elanga would surely have added his name to the scoresheet.
Eight minutes into the second half, United doubled the lead courtesy of Levitt and Greenwood once again. Welshman Levitt provided another terrific pass and Greenwood, in his first outing since being part of the training camp in Dubai, completed the task with a close-range finish.
Stoke winger Abdoulaye Toure must have been cursing his luck after seeing one fierce drive rattle the crossbar and another fly narrowly over James Thompson’s goal. However, the Reds were assured of claiming an eighth win in 11 league games when, in the space of five minutes, we added goals from Mellor and skipper Williams. Forward Mellor finished off a move involving Williams and Aliou Traore before Williams got in on the act himself with a thumping finish.
Stoke grabbed a goal back in the 81st minute, through striker Ethon Varian, but victory was already safely in the bag for United.
United: Thompson; Puigmal (Elanga 5 (McGhee 76)), Mengi, Bernard, B. Williams; Traore, Garner, Levitt; Galbraith, Mellor (Ramazani 76), Greenwood.
Substitutes not used: Carney, McCann.
Scorers: Varian 81 | Greenwood 13,53 Mellor 67, B. Williams 72
It's a big one - the FA Youth Cup fourth-round date with Brighton & Hove Albion at Leigh Sports Village next Monday. The 19:00 GMT kick-off is live on MUTV.
In the meantime, you can watch the highlights from our Under-18s' 4-1 win at Stoke City on MUTV on Wednesday at 16:30 GMT.
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Young Reds beat the PottersGallery
The best images from our Under-18s' 4-1 victory over Stoke City at Clayton Wood.