Aliou Traore celebrates after scoring the winning goal for Manchester United Under-23s at Norwich Cty

Under-23s: Reds go top with comeback win

Friday 31 January 2020 21:18

Manchester United’s Under-23s leapfrogged over long-time leaders West Ham United to the summit of the Premier League 2 Division Two table, following a hard-earned 2-1 win over Norwich City at Carrow Road on Friday evening.

United fell behind to an early Canaries goal but recovered admirably to claim maximum points with first-half strikes from Aidan Barlow and Aliou Traore.

However, the Hammers could regain top spot on Sunday when they make the long trek north to face basement club Sunderland, who’ve incredibly taken just a solitary point from the fifteen games they have completed so far.
United's Under-23s warm up at Carrow Road.
United head coach Neil Wood was forced, through injury and unavailability, to name a heavily changed side to that which beat Newcastle United 2-1 last time out at Leigh Sports Village.

Slovakian goalkeeper Alex Fojticek was recalled from his loan spell with non-league club Stalybridge Celtic, as was defender Max Taylor. And Barlow was also back in a red shirt following his stint in Norway with Tromso. Despite the alterations, it was still a strong-looking side that lined up to take on the yellow-shirted Canaries.
Just ten days on from the Under-18s' FA Youth Cup success on the same ground, our Under-23s were keen to emulate the youngsters’ impressive victory. But that mission was to receive a setback as early as the third minute when Norwich, who’d started with a real spring in their step, snatched the lead when Gassan Ahadme got on the end of Jordan Thomas’ lofted cross to head the home side in front.

That almost instant shock could easily have taken the wind out of United’s sails but the reaction was a positive one and with Angel Gomes looking to be at his mercurial best, the Reds were soon giving the home side's defence some uneasy moments.

It therefore came as little surprise when, in the 17th minute, Gomes' delicately executed pass found Barlow, who managed to find the net by lifting the ball over the Canaries’ ‘keeper Archie Mair.
Watch Barlow's well-crafted equaliser for the Reds.
This was more like it from United, but Wood's men were destined to survive a few scares in Fojticek’s area before Arnau Puigmal supplied the assist for Traore to beat Mair at the second attempt.

The Reds' first-half resurgence spilled over into the second half but despite continuing to have the largest chunk of possession, the threat posed by Norwich kept the likes of the impressive Teden Mengi on their toes in our defence.

The Canaries had arrived at this game with precisely the same record as United from their previous five games – four wins and one defeat – so it was expected to be a tight contest and so it proved, with the Reds just shading it to go top.
See how Traore scored our winning goal at Carrow Road, eight minutes before the break.

United: Fojticek; Puigmal, Mengi, Taylor, McGhee; Garner, Galbraith, Levitt; Barlow (Mejbri 73), Gomes, Traore.

Substitutes not used: Ramazani, Carney, Helm, Wellens.

Goals: Norwich - Ahadme 3 | United - Barlow 17, Traore 37.