Premier League 2 | Old Trafford | Scorers: Chong 23, Redmond 74 | Foulds 20, Garbutt 47
Manchester United’s Under-23s brought down the curtain on the Premier League 2 season with a good performance and fair share of the spoils against Everton at Old Trafford on Friday evening.
The campaign may have ended in disappointment with the Reds suffering relegation but, on many occasions, the Reds have performed far better than some of our results may have suggested. This game against the boys from Goodison Park was a perfect example of the standard the team can attain, although nobody could complain about this evening’s final outcome.
It was a pleasantly mild evening, which had helped to attract a 1,110 devotees, including a few visitors from Merseyside, to this end-of-season fixture. Small in number they may have been, but there was no shortage of enthusiasm and appreciation for the quality of play unfolding before them.
End-to-end is only way to describe the opening exchanges as both teams had a spring in their step and the goalkeepers were kept busy as openings were produced. Everton’s Joe Hilton did well to get down to Indy Boonen’s low drive, while Matej Kovar, on his Reserves debut, also had to have his wits about him when Josh Bowler rattled in an angled drive.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson had also gone close with a shot after he had ventured upfield for a set-piece. The entertainment continued to flow and midway through the half an enjoyable contest was decorated with two goals. The visitors were the first celebrate when, in the 20th minute, Matthew Foulds tapped in at the far post. The Reds were quick to reply with Tahith Chong hitting a stinging right-foot shot across Hilton barely two minutes after Everton had scored.
There was little let-up as the action during the remainder of the first half and when referee Peter Gibbons blew the half-time whistle the score couldn’t have better reflected the opening 45 minutes. Everton were rapid out of the blocks at the start of the second half and, within 80 seconds of the restart, they had recaptured the lead thanks to blistering shot from full-back Luke Garbutt.
Less than 10 minutes later and it could have been even worse for United when only Kovar’s acrobatics prevented Bowler’s fierce strike from entering the net. United drew level again, in the 74th minute, thanks to an unstoppable strike from Devonte Redmond.
And, deep into injury time, United almost grabbed a winner when skipper Joe Riley thumped a cracking shot wide of Hilton’s left-hand post. A fracas at the end illustrated the intensity of a match that was far from a dull dead rubber.
United: Kovar; Riley, R. Williams, Borthwick-Jackson, O’Connor; Redmond, Hamilton, Gribbin; Dearnley (Kehinde 86), Boonen, Chong.
Subs not used: Richardson, Warren, Ercolani, Whelan.