Martin Svidersky and Charlie McNeill celebrate a goal against Blackburn Rovers Under-18s

United Under-18s win a winter thriller

Saturday 23 January 2021 14:05

Manchester United's Under-18s played their first game of 2021 on Saturday afternoon - and what a game it was!

In wintry conditions, Neil Ryan's young side beat Blackburn Rovers 4-3 away, thanks to first-half goals by Charlie McNeill (2) and Noam Emeran, plus Charlie Savage's 88th-minute winner.

The home side had rallied from 0-3 down at half-time to level the scores at 3-3 with a hat-trick from Zak Gilsenan but Savage's strike eventually settled an entertaining contest.
Savage celebrates his 88th-minute winner.
This excellent victory means the Reds have now won nine on the spin in the Under-18 Premier League North.

The visitors' first-half dominance on a snowy pitch at Brockhall began when McNeill scored the opening goal for the third game in a row. This one came even earlier than his penalty in the 4-0 win over Leeds before Christmas, as he capitalised on a defensive error at the edge of the penalty area to fire past Blackburn goalkeeper Felix Goddard inside the first minute.

Goddard was equal to McNeill's next effort of note, when he clutched a free-kick, but our no.9 would not be denied his double for much longer. In the 36th minute, the Reds striker pounced on a loose ball inside the box to once again demonstrate his ruthless nature in front of goal.
When Emeran broke through to make it 3-0 from Dillon Hoogewerf's assist, five minutes before the break, it seemed United were set for a comfortable winning start to 2021 as Blackburn had yet to register a shot on target.

However, that plain-sailing notion was soon dispelled as Rovers began the second period brightly and attacked with purpose, even before pulling the first goal back from a corner in the 52nd minute. Gilsenan converted after the initial shot by Jake Garrett was saved by United keeper Johan Guadagno.

Just a few minutes later, Reds centre-back Rhys Bennett - who made his Under-18s debut when the sides met last September - almost made it 4-1 when his header following a corner was cleared off the line. But Blackburn were otherwise growing in confidence and they cut the lead to 3-2 when Gilsenan grabbed his second goal on 69 minutes from Alex Baker's deflected cross.
McNeill beats Blackburn goalkeeper Goddard to make it 2-0.
Rovers' remarkable comeback was completed when Gilsenan, an Australian youth international, sealed his hat-trick with Baker again the provider, making the score 3-3 with ten minutes to go.

Despite the huge blow of having the 3-0 lead wiped out, the United boys showed great character to take control again and after some patient build-up play, Savage scored the game's seventh goal. His close-range finish, and some resilient defending as Rovers frantically pressed for an equaliser, ensured the Reds' long winning streak was extended in style.


United: Guadagno; Jurado, Bennett, Hardley, Pye; Svidersky (captain), Savage; Wellens, Hoogewerf, Emeran; McNeill. 

Substitutes not used: Murray, Vitek, Mainoo, Jackson.

Goals: McNeill 1, 36, Emeran 40, Savage 88 | Gilsenan 54, 69, 80.

Additional reporting by Steve Bennett. MUTV will show match highlights at 21:30 GMT on Sunday.