Under-18s claim point against the Baggies
Manchester United’s younger-than-usual Under-18s had to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion at the Aon Training complex on Saturday morning.
In the end, Neil Ryan and his staff were probably pleased to claim a share of the spoils against an accomplished Albion side.
The visitors, particularly after the break, were pressing more than United but they had to come from behind twice to force a draw.
There was really good turn-out for this game with at least a couple of hundred supporters gathered alongside the near touchline and in the two little stands at either end of the Under-18s’ pitch.The sun was shining brightly, but there was also a wintry chill in the air, but that hadn’t prevented the die-hards from arriving to give the juniors their usual unwavering support. It was similar scene on the adjacent Under-16s’ field where Albion were also the visiting team.
The game took a little time to get going, with neither side showing much in the way of serious attempts on goal.
Most notable of the scoring opportunities were down to West Brom’s Zak Brown who, with an ounce of luck, could have put his side in the lead. And, a few minutes later, it was the Reds’ turn to threaten when Connor Stanley found himself in a good position but his shot found the wrong side of net guarded by Albion’s Josh Griffiths.
United started to command more of the ball as the match approached half-time, but it was Albion who nearly grabbed the when Stanley Asomungha skied his shot over Jacob Carney's crossbar.
Then, with the seconds ticking away to the break Ethan Galbraith sent through an inch-perfect pass to Dion McGhee, who took the ball in his stride before rattling home in fine style. Remarkably, there was still time for Albion to go with an ace of levelling, with only a fantastic goal-line block by Lukasz Bejger stopping Stanley Asomugha from claiming the equaliser.
The visitors were denied again in the opening moments of the second half when keeper Carney’s acrobatic save prevented Alex Gilbert’s angled drive from reaching its target.
The Baggies were growing in confidence and it came as little surprise when, on the hour, Gilbert put the team from the West Midlands on terms, when he was left in too much space at the far post, worked his way past Harvey Neville and fired in.
United were required to dig deep as the visitors continued hold the balance of possession and, as a result, they were more active in the danger areas. However, McGhee's free-kick from the left found the imposing Teden Mengi in the box and his ball towards goal was diverted into his own net by Brown.
Shoretire, who has only just turned 15, and Iestyn Hughes, who is a year older, came on for their debuts, while another Under-16s prospect, Mipo Odubeko, who had been denied when well positioned in the first half, bent an effort just wide.
Gilbert grabbed his second with three minutes left, when the ball was not cleared inside the box, and the visitors applied late pressure during a lengthy period of stoppage time in a bid for a winner. However, United stood firm to earn a point.
United: Carney; Neville (Hughes 68), Mengi (Hockenhull 83), Bejger, Devine; Galbraith, McCann, Helm (Shoretire 68); McGhee, Odubeko, Stanley.
Substitutes not used: Thompson, Denham.
United: McGhee 44, Brown og 73
West Brom: Gilbert 60,87