Matthew Olosunde sprints forward on his first start of the season.

Under-23s out of luck at Stoke

Manchester United's Under-23s were beaten 3-1 by Stoke City in Premier League 2 on Monday night.

The Reds were stretched after the Under-18 game at the weekend, with James Garner plus substitutes Dylan Levitt and D'Mani Mellor playing twice in quick succession, and two-first half goals at Harrison Park in Leek put Stoke firmly in the driving seat.

A late goal from D’Mani Mellor did briefly raise hopes of taking something from the game, only for Josh Tymon's free-kick to settle matters.

Nishan Burkart in action at Stoke City.
Nishan Burkart tries to get away from the Stoke defenders.

United began this match holding sixth place in the Under-18 Premier League table, one point and one place behind Aston Villa and three points adrift of fourth-placed Newcastle United. Ricky Sbragia’s team were the wearing all-blue change kit to avoid a clash with Stoke City’s red-and-white stripes.

It wasn’t the warmest of evenings in the small Staffordshire market town of Leek, which is about 10 miles from Stoke-on Trent on the edge of the Peak District National Park, but there was a good turn-out at the compact home ground of Leek Town.

The surroundings were a stark contrast the meeting earlier in the season when an Angel Gomes goal gave United a narrow victory at Old Trafford.

The share of possession couldn’t have been more equitable in the opening stages of the match as both teams knocked the ball about at a brisk pace.

Good chances were created at either end of the field, but United’s George Tanner and Thibaud Verlinden, the Potters’ left-winger, were both out of luck. Then, in the 32nd minute, the home side grabbed the lead with a fast and impressive attack that culminated with Tre Pemberton firing in a low shot that beat the diving Matej Kovar.

Seven minutes later, United’s were rocked again as another rapid attack saw Daniel Jarvis’s right-wing cross hooked home by Verlinden. Soon after the restart, United had keeper Kovar to thank for a brilliant one-handed reflex save to halt Nathan Collins’s point-blank header.

James Garner wins the ball for United.
James Garner gets a foot on the ball for United.
Coach Ricky Sbragia made three separate changes inside five minutes in the hope that a reshuffle may revive United’s fortunes.

Dylan Levitt, one the trio of replacements, very nearly made an instant impact but his curling shot was inches past the wrong side of the post.

Mellor, another of United’s substitutes, raised hopes of a late fightback when he found the net in the 81st minute by crashing in after a good run, but, within two minutes, Stoke had restored their two-goal cushion thanks to an audacious long-range shot from Tymon.

Josh Bohui tries to get a shot away.
Josh Bohui manages to get a shot away during the defeat.

United: Kovar; Olosunde, Ercolani, O’Connor, Tanner; Garner, Buffonge (Levitt 63), Gomes; Burkart (Elanga 60), Bohui (Mellor 58), Barlow.

Substitutes not used: Woolston, Traore.

Scorers: Pemberton 32, Verlinden 39, Tymon 83 | Mellor 81

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