Under-18s draw with Sunderland
Manchester United's Under-18s had to settle for a draw against Sunderland, who scored a dramatic 98th-minute equaliser to snatch a point at the Aon Training Complex on Saturday afternoon.
After Sean Kennedy's early opener for Sunderland, goals from Dion McGhee (2) and Largie Ramazani looked to have earned victory for Neil Ryan's side and boosted our chances of winning the Premier League North title. But the visitors staged a late comeback through goals from substitute Tom Scothern and, deep into stoppage time, Ryan Gooch.
It was a beautiful early afternoon at Carrington, with bright sunshine illuminating the scene as Sunderland, wearing a changed strip of all black, kicked off.
Warm and virtually wind free, it was perfect conditions for football and also ideal for the die-hard spectators who always attend, whatever the weather.
When the teams met earlier in the season on Wearside, it proved to be something of a one-sided affair with United netting seven goals without reply - and the Reds began this return fixture in the mood that suggested they were about to embark on another goal-spree.
The young Reds dominated during the opening 10 minutes but then the visitors made one of their rare forays into United territory count by claiming the afternoon’s first goal.
Winger Sean Kennedy was the scorer of the goal which came against the run of play, beating keeper Jacob Carney with a well-struck low shot following a Sunderland corner.
However, Ryan's side were soon back on the offensive and netted twice in three minutes to turn the game on its head and go into half-time with the lead.
A splendid three-man move involving Arnau Puigmal and Brandon Williams ended with McGhee gleefully stabbing home from close range as he scored for the second successive game.
The second goal was equally eye-catching but in complete contrast to the first as Anthony Elanga’s blistering pace saw him outstrip the Black Cats’ chasing defenders. He unleashed a shot which was saved by Sunderland keeper Jack Newman but Largie Ramazani was in the right place and charged with the simple task of putting his side into the lead from close range.
United going in at the break 2-1 in the lead was totally in keeping with the overall share of possession during the opening 45 minutes.
Sunderland could be excused for approaching the second game with a touch of trepidation, after suffering that United goal-fest when the teams last faced each other. But, to their credit, they composed themselves and enjoyed a much improved second-half display.
United still looked menacing and capable of scoring more goals - which was proved when we moved into a two-goal lead on the hour mark.
Sunderland defender Patrick Almond fouled Elanga, whose pace caused problems all afternoon, and McGhee coolly slotted home the resulting penalty.
That goal looked to have sealed the victory for United, but Sunderland had other ideas and, with 11 minutes of normal remaining, they were back in the contest thanks to a good finish from Tom Scothern, who had come onto the pitch from the bench moments earlier.
Referee Karl Buckley decided that there was to be six minutes of added time, which eventually stretched to nine, and it proved too much for the Reds.
The visitors struck with seconds remaining to snatch a point when Ryan Gooch fired in the equaliser, which struck keeper Carney before nestling in the net.
United: Carney; B. Williams (c) (Neville 90+1), Mengi, Bejger, Devine; Puigmal, Galbraith, Traore (Helm 72); McGhee, Elanga, Ramazani (McCann 51).
Substitutes not used: Mastny, Stanley.
Goals: McGhee 39, 60 (pen), Ramazani 43; Kennedy 8, Scothern 79, Gooch 90+8.
Our Under-18s are next in action on Saturday 13 April, when we make the short trip across town to face Manchester City at Academy Stadium. Kick-off will be at 11:00 BST and the game will be live on MUTV.