Anthony Elanga.

Under-23s hit Derby for six in Loughborough

Manchester United's Under-23s turned on the style to win our final away game of the Premier League 2 season 6-2 against Derby County, with Anthony Elanga and Shola Shoretire both scoring doubles.

Neil Wood's side moved up to fifth place in the Division One table, following a goal blitz at the Loughborough University Stadium on Monday evening that started in the opening minute.

United’s lead coach must have been delighted, not only with the result but also the fantastic performance of his players who displayed a scintillating brand of flair and quality all evening.

The victory also transformed the team’s goal difference from a three-goal negative total of 51-54, before the game, to a much better looking 57-56 at the final whistle.

Under-23s' quick start at DerbyVideo

United arrived in East Midlands' seat of learning looking to conclude the season on a positive note with a couple of victories over the Rams. The teams meet again at Leigh Sports Village in what is an end-of-campaign double-header.

Derby started the game a couple of points ahead of United in the league table on a miserable May evening that could easily have been mistaken for October or November. The terrible weather may not have been what could be described as ideal conditions but that didn’t have any adverse effect on either team as they both notched a goal inside the opening four minutes.

In fact, United were a goal to the good in just 27 seconds following a rapid attack down the right wing which ended with Elanga thumping in a left-foot shot after collecting a threaded pass from Omari Forson.

It was a great start for the Reds, but it wasn’t to last as, three minutes later, the Rams were level courtesy of Olamide Ibrahim, a former member of our Academy, who fired home an unstoppable strike off the underside of the bar.

Watched by a group of hardy, or should it be foolhardy students, on an evening such as this, high on a grassy mound alongside the pitch, this match was already providing excellent entertainment, but it was only a taster of what was to come.

Derby showed they had recovered from that early blow when, in the 31st minute, Cameron Cresswell blasted his side into the lead by finding the top corner of the net from outside the box. United’s Under-23s have been in several high-scoring encounters during the season and this threatened to develop into another.

Two minutes later, United were level following a four-man move which saw Ethan Galbraith score his third goal of the season and the first from open play with his previous two arriving via the penalty-spot. The Northern Ireland international rattled in a fierce drive after Charlie McCann miskicked a neat pass by Mark Helm.

It’s fair to say that United would have been happy enough to go in at the break having got ourselves back on level terms. But, with six minutes of the first half to play, Shoretire tapped home United’s third goal after Rams keeper George Sykes-Kenworthy stopped but failed to hold Elanga’s shot from a rapid breakway, which also involved Omari Forson.

And there was still time for Forson to mark his Under-23s debut with a confident finish after the 16-year-old was played through by Shoretire.

Galbraith scores a cracker at DerbyVideo

Torrential rain and a rainbow greeted the teams as they returned from their half-time rest and refreshment but there was to be no immediate repeat of the ‘pot of goals’ that we had seen in the first half’s closing stages.

Sykes-Kenworthy kept out a Hannibal shot and the Frenchman also fired over the bar, while substitute Alvaro Fernandez was unlucky not to earn a penalty when he tried to latch on to a pass by Elanga.

However, there were to be more goals for the ‘crowd’ on the hill to enjoy later in the half as United rattled home a couple inside four minutes. Elanga registered his second of the night, in the 72nd minute, with a great right-foot strike, cutting across from the left and ignoring a sea of defenders in front of him.

Soon afterwards, Elanga aided team-mate Shoretire to also make his goal haul a double on the night, picking him out with an intelligent pass into the danger area.

Zidane Iqbal came on to make his Premier League 2 bow, for the excellent Forson, as United produced a superb all-round performance in the rain.

Under-23s hit Derby on the break to go aheadVideo

MATCH DETAILS

United: Kovar; Helm, Taylor, Fish (c) (Fernandez 46), Devine; McCann, Galbraith (Wellens 57), Shoretire; Forson (Iqbal 77), Hannibal, Elanga.

Substitutes not used: Mastny, McNeill.

Goals: Ibrahim 4, Cresswell 31 | Elanga 1,72, Galbraith 33, Shoretire 39,76, Forson 45+1.

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