Anthony Elanga celebrates his equaliser for Man Utd Under-18s against Middlesbrough

Elanga earns Reds a share of the spoils

Manchester United's youngsters kicked things off after the international break with a 1-1 draw in the Under-18 Premier League match against Middlesbrough the at Aon Training Complex.

Neil Ryan’s charges we forced to settle for a share of the spoils following an entertaining and well-balanced contest against the visitors from Teesside.

There was a distinct autumnal chill in the air ahead of the game but it was also bright and sunny to provide excellent conditions.

Middlesbrough listed just four substitutes when the teams were announced and their personnel was further depleted before kick-off when central defender Andy Wilson was withdrawn from the visitors’ starting XI, presumably after picking up an injury in the warm-up, to be replaced by Isiah Cornet.

The game took a little time to click into gear with very few chances being made but, from the off, the play suggested that was going to be a highly competitive fixture.

Shola Shoretire tries to find the net for Man Utd Under-18s.
Shola Shoretire is foiled by the Middlesbrough keeper.
United’s share of possession slowly increased and, with it, the openings began to increase and the Reds were unlucky more than once when shots from Anthony Elanga and Mark Helm went narrowly wide of the Boro goal.

At no point were Middlesbrough being over-run and they certainly posed a threat whenever they ventured up field. That danger was confirmed, in the 24th minute, when Alberto Balde picked out Cornet with a measured pass and French youngster, who was thrust into the fray only minutes before kick-off, caught the ball perfectly to beat Ondrej Mastny with a left-foot shot.

United, who came from two goals down to win 5-2 against Newcastle United on Tyneside two weeks ago, were almost faced with the same predicament when Joe Gibson went disturbingly close to adding a second goal for the Teesside club.

United then lost Charlie Wellens with what appeared to be a lower leg injury and introduced Martin Svidersky, a 17-year-old from Slovakia who was making his debut at this level.

United enjoyed more of the attacking play after the interval but, despite the improvement, the equalising goal continued to be elusive.

The Reds had to remain cautious because Boro looked more than capable of scoring when they found themselves in front of Mastny’s goal, and the keeper needed to remain sharp.

The pace of the game of the saw the play switch from one end to the other at a rapid rate and it remained impossible to predict the eventual outcome. Time started to tick away, as it tends to, but with 10 minutes left on the clock, United finally found a route to the Middlesbrough goal. Substitute Deji Sotona began the move with a penetrating run down the right before releasing the ball to Helm, who instinctively found Elanga with a clever back-heel and the Reds’ winger completed the job with a sizzling drive past Boro keeper Harry Flatters.

Both sides had opportunities to claim maximum points during the closing stages, with Boro hitting the bar in stoppage time, but, ultimately, a point apiece was a fair outcome.

Sir Alex Ferguson watched on from the sidelines.
Sir Alex Ferguson watched from the touchline, with Michael Carrick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United: Mastny; Bejger, Hockenhull, Fish, Hardley; McCann, Helm (Forson 90), Wellens (Svidersky 37); Shoretire (Sotona 63), Hoogewerf, Elanga.

Substitutes not used: Guadagno, Neville.

Scorers: Elanga 80 | Cornet 24

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