Manchester United Under-18s celebrate the winning goal against Blackburn Rovers

Under-18s: Reds show resilience in away win

Saturday 01 February 2020 13:30

Manchester United's Under-18s claimed a first clean sheet since the opening day of the season and secured all three points with a battling and determined performance against Blackburn Rovers in Lancashire on Saturday.

Rovers piled up the scoring chances, particularly in the opening half, and could have been out of sight but the Reds' youthful players showed commendable character and resolve to force their way back into the game which ultimately went their way. 

United coach Neil Ryan, with no doubt his thoughts on Wednesday’s FA Youth Cup clash against Leeds United, fielded an extremely young side for what is traditionally one of the season’s most challenging fixtures at Blackburn Rovers’ Brockhall Training Centre.

Predictably, Rovers, with an older and more experienced line-up, mounted an early spell of pressure and a couple of times went close in their quest to grab a quick goal. United were required to ‘batten down the hatches’ in those opening minutes of the game but came through the test unscathed with Dermot Mee’s goal intact.
Charlie Savage battles for possession just outside the Blackburn area.
The home side continued to hold sway following those initial sorties into United’s territory but the Reds weren’t inactive at the other end of the field and more than once the home side needed to be on their guard.

Jared Harlock spurned a great chance to give his side the lead but scuffed his shot with Mee’s goal at his mercy. Isaac Whitehall, Rovers’ central defender and skipper, must have thought he had made the breakthrough when his point-blank header, from Luke Brennan’s free-kick, looked destined to find the net until Mee pulled off a quite remarkable reflex save.

Rovers striker Harry Leonard was also out of luck in their next attack and Brennan fired wide from distance too.

United's best attack was saved for the final moments of the first half when a five-man move ended with Zidane Iqbal’s shot being saved by home ‘keeper Jordan Eastham.
Just a handful of minutes into the second half, the Reds were unlucky not to have taken the lead when Max Haygarth and Martin Svidersky narrowly failed to make contact with Harvey Neville’s inviting free-kick.

United started to enjoy much more of the possession and shortly after the hour mark, the Reds stunned Rovers when a trialist, who had come on as a substitute for the start of the second half, struck from close range to put his side into the lead.

It was a great moment and the trialist's delight was shared by the numerous United players who engulfed him in celebration.
United players celebrate after taking the lead.

United: Mee; Neville, Denham, Hockenhull, Hardley; Svidersky, Iqbal (Hoogewerf 76), Savage (Trialist 46); Forson, Haygarth (Stanley 56), Sotona.

Substitutes: Mastny, Gallagher-Allison.

Goal: Corbett 61.

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