Mark Helm and Teden Mengi celebrate the latter's winning goal for Manchester United Under-18s against Manchester City

Under-18s: Resolute Reds see off Man City

Manchester United Under-18s claimed the bragging rights in the ‘mini-derby’ against Manchester City with a thrilling 2-1 win at the Etihad Complex on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds had to dig deep to pick up maximum points in a fascinating contest that was a distinct game of two halves.

The Blues commanded the first period and could have been in possession of a decent lead by the break but in the second half, Neil Ryan's side were the dominant force and goals from Hannibal Mejbri and Teden Mengi saw us streak into the lead. City grabbed one back through Liam Delap with fifteen minutes remaining but it wasn’t enough to prevent this being United's day.

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Hannibal Mejbri on the ball against two Manchester City Under-18 defenders
Mejbri scored United's first goal less than a minute after the second half started.
The two great rivals were sporting their traditional strips, except for United's switch to black shorts, and the weather was cold but thankfully dry. The threatened rain which had been prominent in the forecast for most of the week failed to materialise, but your reporter’s laptop was given a quick shower when a brief gust of wind caught the spray from the pitch's sprinklers.

Prior to kick-off, there was a perfectly observed minute’s silence ahead of Sunday’s Remembrance commemorations. Shortly afterwards, the old adage of ‘no quarter asked, no quarter given’ came to mind as ferocious challenges from both sides began to stack up inside the first 60 seconds.
City enjoyed more of the attacking in the opening stages and more than once came close to making the early breakthrough against their cross-town neighbours. Alex Robertson’s fierce drive struck the foot of the post and a shot from Alex Fiorini would have found the target but for Ondrej Mastny’s intervention. United’s defence were certainly earning their wages, standing firm against the Blues’ lively and persistent forwards.

Russ Hayes, the Reds' physiotherapist, was briefly covering the welfare of both teams when his opposite number, City’s Patrick Keeling, was called away to attend a spectator who had fallen.

Half-time was reached with neither side having found the net, but City must have been wondering what they had to do to rectify that situation.
Manchester United Under-18 players celebrate Hannibal Mejbri's opening goal against Manchester City
The interval gave Neil Ryan and his staff an opportunity to regroup and offer some words of wisdom in readiness for the next forty-five minutes. Whatever was said during that brief half-time conference, it had an almost instant effect as the Reds swept forward to grab the lead in the second half’s opening minute.

Declan Brown, the referee, had barely taken the whistle from his mouth having restarted the game when United full-back Reece Devine raced down the left wing before crossing into the middle where Mejbri instantly redirected the ball past City ‘keeper Gavin Bazanu.

It was a truly astonishing start to the second period and the goal acted as a welcome boost to United’s confidence following the earlier tribulations.
 
Teden Mengi shoots for Manchester United Under-18s against Manchester City
The transformation was really quite remarkable and, in the 65th minute, the Reds were celebrating again after Bazanu was beaten for the second time. Mark Helm supplied the final pass and central defender Mengi rifled the ball home.

The Reds were looking comfortable with a two-goal lead but ten minutes later, some confusion in United’s penalty area allowed City substitute Liam Delap to halve the visitors' advantage.

That moment gave City fresh hope of securing something from the game and the during last few minutes they did their level best to find the equaliser but United stood firm to record a memorable victory.
Reece Devine and Anthony Elanga surge forward against Manchester City Under-18s
Reece Devine and Anthony Elanga race forward to create United's opener.
MATCH DETAILS
 
United:
Mastny; Bejger (Hardley 86), Fish, Mengi, Devine; McCann, Helm, Mejbri (Wellens 69); Shoretire (Sotona 90+2), Hoogewerf, Elanga.

Substitutes not used: Hockenhull, Mee.

Scorers: United - Mejbril 46, Mengi 65 | City - Delap 75.

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