Under-18s: Reds fight from behind to beat Leeds

Manchester United Under-18s’ top scorer Charlie McNeill claimed two goals as the Reds achieved a vital and keenly fought 4-2 victory over Leeds United at Thorp Arch Grange on Saturday afternoon. Dillon Hoogewerf, who put in an eye-catching performance, was also on the mark, along with Charlie Wellens.

Leeds led at the break, thanks to Max Dean’s goal, but the Reds fought back magnificently to take a 3-1 advantage, and a late goal from Joe Snowdon ensured a thrilling last few minutes.

The win stretched United’s lead to eight points over Manchester City who have three games in hand, the first of which, against Blackburn Rovers, takes place later on Saturday. The Reds will complete our 2020/21 fixtures at home to Middlesbrough next weekend.

United’s youngsters made an encouragingly positive start to this game on an overcast afternoon in West Yorkshire.

The early minutes suggested that United had prepared well and were in the right frame of mind to extend the title chase to the end of the campaign.

Our Under-18s were dealt an early blow on Saturday afternoon.
The momentum was with the Reds, but Leeds were grafting and defending their lines with conviction, while our youngsters struggled to make clear-cut chances.

Leeds gradually came out of their shell and began to pose a real threat to United’s ambitions. And, in the 20th minute, they constructed a fine move which ended with Dean sliding the ball home from Morten Spencer’s low cross.

The home side were looking increasingly dangerous as the match proceeded and United’s early dominance had converted into a full-blown end-to-end clash. Chances started to mount up and it was remarkable that half-time was reached with just that one Leeds goal recorded.

The Reds needed to convert our encouraging performance into goals, and whatever words of wisdom Neil Ryan and his staff had offered during the interval, it was about to be followed to the letter.
Just four minutes of the second half had ticked on when United, who had been camped just outside the Leeds area, grabbed the equaliser, with the diminutive Hoogewerf heading the ball firmly into the net from McNeill’s cross.

That was the perfect response and more was to follow six minutes later when the Under-18s’ goal machine McNeill, with Charlie Savage’s assistance, raised to 20 his total of league goals for the season.

Within three minutes, it was up to 21 as McNeill cracked home a trademark striker’s goal after he had been found by Hoogewerf’s wonderful raking pass. The forward took a touch to control the ball inside the box before unleashing a powerful effort into the opposition corner of the goal.

United looked home and dry and went on to stack up enough chances to have put the result beyond doubt, but that was dealt a blow with eight minutes remaining when Joe Snowden’s right-footed free-kick found a way through the Reds’ defensive wall.

Leeds had been thrown a lifeline but ultimately it was United who bagged maximum points when, in the last minute, Wellens exchanged passes with Omari Forson, before firing past keeper Dani van den Heuvel.
Charlie Wellens grabbed a late fourth to wrap things up for the Reds.
MATCH DETAILS
   
United: Guadagno; Wellens, Bennett, Fish, Fernandez; Svidersky, Savage; Hoogewerf, Iqbal (Forson 74), Garnacho (Mainoo 82); McNeill.

Substitutes not used: Vitek, Oyedele.

Goalscorers: Hoogewerf 49, McNeill 55 & 58, Wellens 90.

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