U23s: Hat-trick halts United's winning run
Manchester United’s recent sequence of high-scoring wins was brought to a close on Merseyside as Everton’s Nathan Broadhead bagged a clinical hat-trick.
The defeat halted United’s gradual ascent up the Premier League 2 Division One table over the past few weeks as Everton’s victory saw them leapfrog over the Reds into fourth place.
The Reds welcomed back Manchester lad Will Fish into the back four and Arnau Puigmal, the talented Spaniard, in midfield, but the latter’s return to the colours was sadly curtailed early in the game when he picked up a knock and was replaced by Dutch youngster Dillon Hoogewerf.
It was a blow to Neil Wood’s side who were also without the injured Hannibal and Anthony Elanga, as well as Shola Shoretire whose recent performances at Academy level paved the way for him to make his first-team debut as a late substitute against Newcastle United at Old Trafford last night.
The Toffees started this game just two points behind United in the table, so a tight contest was a real prospect and that’s just how the first half unfolded.
Genuine chances were at a premium and the attackers of both teams were thwarted several times by the excellent form of the two goalkeepers.
McCann went close with a grass-cutter and a few minutes later Mark Helm could be excused for thinking that he was just about to celebrate but Everton’s number one Joao Virginia deprived him with a great save.
Soon after it was the turn of United's Matej Kovar to take the goalkeeping plaudits after making an equally impressive block to deny Broadhead.
United looked to be heading into the break in arrears, but help arrived when, with the last kick of the first half, McCann rattled home his second Premier League 2 goal of the season to put his side on level terms.
So, all to play for in the second period and the Reds' hopes were raised when Hoogewerf’s goal-bound shot was pushed on to the angle of the frame by Virginia.
Then, in the space of seven minutes, Everton, or more accurately Broadhead, turned the contest into a mountaineering exercise for the Reds when he claimed two further goals to complete his hat-trick. The first was a low shot across Kovar and the second was a simple header after a corner from the right was flicked on.
Neil Wood brought on another prolific striker towards the end, giving Charlie McNeill the chance to step up a level alongside his fellow Under-18s attacker Hoogewerf. But the Toffees saw out the triumph, leaving the Reds in search of a return to winning ways on Saturday's long trip to Southampton.
United: Kovar; Neville, Fish, Devine, Fernandez; Galbraith, Svidersky; Helm, Puigmal (Hoogewerf 16), McCann; Hugill (McNeill 70).
Substitutes not used: Hughes, Mastny.
Goals: McCann 45+1 | Broadhead 26, 57, 64.