First-team stars Marcos Rojo and Diogo Dalot both made guest appearances at Old Trafford on Friday night as United's Under-23s maintained an unbeaten start to the season with a hard-fought draw against Reading.
Argentina defender Rojo was named alongside fellow centre-back Ro-Shaun Williams on Ricky Sbragia's teamsheet, while summer signing Dalot was retained in the side after making his first appearance in United’s red shirt in the win over Stoke City at this level two weeks ago.
Angel Gomes was promoted to wear the skipper’s armband with Regan Poole, who had captained the side in the previous four outings, listed as one of United’s five substitutes.
United’s mission to preserve an encouraging start to the campaign – four games played, two wins and two draws – received a setback in the 11th minute when the Berkshire side snatched the lead with a headed goal from striker Ben House.
Barely five minutes later, the Reds had Czech goalkeeper Matej Kovar to thank after he pulled off a brilliant save to keep out Darren Sidoel’s free-kick from the edge of the area. Sidoel was later yellow-carded for a clumsy challenge on Zak Dearnley when the United no.9 was endeavouring to weave his way through the Reading defence.
Dearnley showed no ill effects as, soon afterwards, he hit a terrific shot that required a spectacular save from the visitors’ number one, Luke Southwood. The Royals' keeper displayed his athleticism again minutes later, to prevent Tahith Chong’s drive from finding the target.
The second half started brightly with United forcing two quick corners and then Chong exchanged passes with Gomes before hitting a shot that went inches wide.
The momentum was affected when Rojo came off with an apparent problem in the 54th minute and was replaced by Poole, although coach Sbragia later told MUTV he thought the first-team defender would be okay after spending time with the medical staff.
All United’s hard work in getting back on terms was threatened in the closing stages, however, as Reading started to turn the screw.
The Reds’ defenders, with Dalot completing 90 minutes, were certainly busier than the visitors' back four and had to make several vital interceptions and last-ditch challenges. But on the balance of play and scoring opportunities across the evening, the final score of 1-1 was just about right with both sides taking some reward from the match.
United: Kovar; Dalot, R. Williams, Rojo (Poole 54), O’Connor; Gomes, Garner (Barlow 78), Hamilton; Chong, Dearnley (Buffonge 79), Bohui.
Substitutes: Fojticek, Tanner.
Scorer: Bohui 66.
Reading Scorer: House 11.