Ramazani extends unbeaten Under-23s start
United’s Under-23 looked destined to be defeated for the first time in Premier League 2 at Old Trafford on Friday evening, but a late goal from Largie Ramazani salvaged a point against West Ham in the nick of time.
The draw meant that Neil Wood’s team remain at the top of the table, but we were forced to battle all the way against an accomplished Hammers side.
Angel Gomes gave United the lead, but goals from Nathan Holland and Anthony Scully turned the game in favour of the visitors until Ramazani’s rescue act in the last minute.
Both teams approached this fixture with virtually unblemished records from their opening three outings.
Three wins on the bounce for United and West Ham saw them making the early running with the Reds holding top spot purely by possessing a superior goal difference.
Second-team fixtures are rarely staged at Old Trafford these days so it ranks as a special occasion for the players, as a taster for what might become a regular occurrence at some point in the near future.
It also provides a great opportunity for families with young children to come along and sample the matchday experience in relaxed surroundings.There were plenty of youngsters in the crowd for this game, and it was not too long before they had a reason to cheer.
Winning games breeds confidence and self-belief, which both teams were soon exhibiting in a lively opening to the game.
It has to be said that the Reds made more of their chances in front of goal, with Anthony Elanga, Aliou Traore, Angel Gomes and Largie Ramazani all hitting fierce drives that were either fielded by Hammers ‘keeper Joseph Anang or squirmed the wrong side of the frame.
United were certainly in a threatening mood and, in the 19th minute, skipper Gomes finally got his calculations right with an angled drive that was well out of Anang’s reach.
It was the team’s 12th league goal of the season without reply to further underline the positive start to the campaign.
United were deserving of taking the lead but West Ham, as they have already shown this season, are no soft touch and their gradual improvement bore fruit just before half-time when Dan Kemp found team-mate Nathan Holland on the edge of United’s area, and he wasted no time in firing a low shot through a forest of United defenders.
The equaliser really gave the visitors a boost and they could easily have gone in at the break leading after going very close to scoring again with their very next attack.
And they carried that momentum over to the second half, embarking on a series of forays into United territory that saw them go close to taking the lead more than once.
The Hammers were definitely enjoying the better of proceedings, and that was confirmed with eight minutes remaining on the clock when Ben Johnson’s cross found Anthony Scully at the far post, who was charged with the simple task of tapping the ball into Paul Woolston’s net.
But there was a further twist in the tale still to come. United responded strongly, as if affronted by the very idea of defeat, and drew their reward in the penultimate minute of normal time.
An incisive pass from Galbraith in midfield found McGhee, who worked the ball wide towards Traore on the right. The French youth international slipped in overlapping full-back Lee O’Connor, who picked out Ramazani in the centre of the penalty area.
The forward stooped and anchored a well-directed header to the right of the despairing Anang, sparking joy among the healthy Old Trafford crowd and extending United's unbeaten start to the season to five matches.
United: Woolston, O’Connor, Mengi, Ercolani, Williams; Gomes (McGhee 80), Galbraith, Levitt, Ramazani, Elanga, Traore.
Substitutes not used: Devine, Fojticek, Hoogewerf, McCann.
Scorers: Gomes 19, Ramazani 89.
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