Ayodeji Sotona in action against Stoke City Under-18s at the Aon Training Complex

Under-18s: Reds stung by a strong Stoke side

Manchester United's Under-18s endured a tough time at the Aon Training Complex on Saturday, losing 3-1 to a more experienced Stoke City line-up.

The Potters were firing on all cylinders from the first whistle and it came as no surprise when Adam Porter gave them an early lead from the penalty spot.

Deji Sotona grabbed an equaliser for United on his 17th birthday, but Stoke restored their lead just before the break through Josh Ireland.

A further goal for the visitors, scored by Andre Godfrinne, just after the restart proved to be enough to give them the away win.
Shola Shoretire shows off his skills against Stoke City Under-18s
Shoretire tries some trickery on the ball against Stoke.
While there is still the small matter of launching our FA Youth Cup campaign next Friday evening, when Lincoln City visit Leigh Sports Village, this was the final Under-18 Premier League North fixture before the lads take their leave and spend the festive season with their families and friends.

The Reds were aiming to bring down the curtain on this year’s league fixtures on a winning note, following the 5-3 defeat at West Bromwich Albion the previous Saturday.

On an almost autumnal morning at Carrington, the kick-off was preceded by a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for victims of the recent events on London Bridge and also for Stoke City’s Benik Afobe, whose two-year-old daughter tragically passed away after contracting an infection.

The game started with the visitors taking an early grip on proceedings and it is no exaggeration to say that the Potters could have been three goals to the good inside the opening six minutes. Had it not been for the agility of United ‘keeper Ondrej Mastny and the frame of his goal, that would have been a reality.

Ben Hockenhull brings the ball forward for United's Under-18s against Stoke
Ben Hockenhull brings the ball forward from central defence.
Stoke continued to hold sway and in the ninth minute, they were awarded a penalty just seconds after Mohamed Sankoh had hit the post. Potters winger Soiyir Sanali was the player fouled, by Sotona, just inside the penalty box, and Porter stepped up to calmly convert the spot-kick.

It was no more than the visitors deserved following their impressive opening, but the Reds gradually got into the game and just after the half-hour mark, birthday-boy Sotona atoned for his earlier error by scoring with a terrific angled drive to put United back on terms.
 
Video
Deji Sotona celebrates after scoring United's equaliser against Stoke City Under-18s, on his 17th birthday.
Watch how Sotona scored and celebrated United's equaliser on his 17th birthday.
The Reds were looking in better shape and starting to test the Stoke defence but seven minutes after reclaiming parity, our Academy boys were trailing again after Josh Ireland, son of former Manchester City and Stoke midfielder Stephen, fired home from a pass by Sanali.

So half-time arrived with the game finely balanced but almost immediately after the restart, United’s task of pulling the game around became more difficult after Stoke found the net for the third time. Potters goalkeeper Nathan Broome lofted the ball downfield and strikers Sankoh and Godfrinne combined smartly with the latter placing his shot past Mastny.

That's how the scoring ended, meaning the Reds' four-match unbeaten run at home - a sequence dating back to September's 3-2 reverse to Everton - was brought to a close.
Hannibal Mejbri
Hannibal Mejbri came on for the closing stages as United tried in vain to force a draw.
MATCH DETAILS

United:
Mastny; Neville, Fish, Hockenhull, Bejger (Hughes 46); Svidersky (Helm 59), McCann; Wellens, Shoretire (Mejbri 72), Sotona; Hoogewerf.

Substitutes not used: Denham, Mee.

Goals: United - Sotona 31 | Stoke - Porter pen. 9, Ireland 38, Godfrinne 48.

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