Charlie McNeil celebrates with Zidane Iqbal after scoring against Wolves

United Under-18s win a tight one at Wolves

Saturday 12 December 2020 13:40

Manchester United's Under-18s claimed a different kind of win to last weekend's seven-goal thriller, eventually beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 away.

Charlie McNeil’s lone second-half goal at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Centre in the West Midlands was just enough to extend the Reds' winning streak to seven league games.

This was never an easy victory for Neil Ryan’s league leaders, without the flair and goal guts of recent weeks, but it was a good professional performance which proved the young Reds can survive and prosper when the going gets tough.

United, of course, were hoping to build on an impressive sequence of six straight league wins, the latest being that titanic 4-3 success over Liverpool seven days before at the Aon Training Complex.
Neil Ryan encourages his United team from the visitors' dug-out at Wolves.
Wolves were also protecting a rich seam of five wins on the bounce which had helped to hoist them into third place in the table, just three points behind Ryan's Reds at the summit.

It therefore came as no surprise that this meeting from the outset was a tight and cagey affair with United, perhaps, marginally edging it in terms of possession but in front of goal there was little or nothing to separate the teams.

The Reds were spending plenty of time in Wanderers’ half of the field but a combination of wild shooting, missed chances and a determined and solid home defence meant free-scoring United – who had registered 19 goals in the previous six games – were unable to increase that commendable total before the interval.
Whilst the visitors may have manufactured the best of the goalscoring opportunities, it was the home side who should have been holding a one-goal lead at the break. Wolves winger Lee Harkin looked odds on to put his side in front, in the 37th minute, when he raced up field with Rhys Bennett in pursuit but he couldn’t complete the task as his shot flew past Dermot Mee’s left-hand post.

The second half, at least for the opening fifteen minutes, produced a decent replica of the first, but United continued to carry the bigger threat and in the 62nd minute, a route through the Wolves’ defence was finally discovered.

Reds full-back Marc Jurado, having joined his team's attack, initiated the move before finding Charlie Wellens, who was close to the dead-ball line. Space was at a premium but the midfielder made the most of what was available and slid the ball along the line to where McNeil was lurking. The former Manchester City striker had plenty of company in the shape of four gold-shirted defenders but with a little shimmy he lashed his shot past Wolves’ keeper Joe Young.
McNeil fires home the winning goal in the 62nd minute.
McNeil was given a great chance to grab his second goal of the game and provide his side with a more comfortable cushion but his shot, which had to be struck first time, flew wide after Wellens’ blast had thumped against the post.

The slender 1-0 lead looked anything but decisive but the Reds continued to operate as a compact unit and ultimately it was just sufficient to preserve the winning sequence.


United: Mee; Jurado, Bennett, Hardley, Hughes; Svidersky, Savage; Wellens (Hoogewerf 65), Iqbal, Emeran (Garnacho 82); McNeill (Hansen 74).

Substitutes not used: Guadagno.

Goal: McNeil 62.