Dillon Hoogewerf.

Under-23s beaten in the capital

Friday 19 March 2021 14:02

Manchester United Under-23s’ Premier League 2 Division One game with Tottenham at the north London club’s Hotspur Way training centre in Enfield perhaps wasn’t a football match for the purists.

Packed with incident and controversy, this hard-fought game, which Spurs won by three clear goals, never reached the heights of skill and style, two of the attributes that have long been the hallmark of both clubs, but it still managed to provide compelling entertainment for those who prefer the earthier side of the game.

Bright sunshine was casting long shadows as this return fixture – United took the points in a 4-2 win at Leigh in late November – got underway at noon.

Neil Wood’s team have been involved in numerous high-scoring contests this season, but last time out we failed to find the net after being reduced to 10 men early in the game when skipper Will Fish was sent off.

So we were certainly hoping to back to get back on the goal standard, but there were few genuine scoring opportunities, at either end, during the first half-hour of the match.

Hannibal made his comeback from an injury lay-off.
However, in the 27th minute, the breakthrough arrived and it was Spurs who were celebrating following Jamie Bowden’s calm accuracy from the penalty spot after Mark Helm, operating at right-back, was somewhat harshly adjudged to have fouled Spurs winger Romaine Mundle.

The goal had a rejuvenating effect on the game and United should have been on terms less than two minutes later when Joe Hugill looked destined to score but was foiled when Spurs keeper Josh Oluwayemi sprinted from his line to claim the ball. And the Reds went close again soon after, when Ethan Galbraith’s goalbound stinger was headed bravely off the line by defender George Marsh.

It wasn’t the prettiest of football matches with most of the action sourced from effort and determination rather than silky skills but nevertheless it was proving to be an interesting tussle.

United’s hopes of turning the game around suffered a double blow in the space of three minutes midway through the second half.

In the 64th minute, the home side doubled their lead when defender Marcel Lavinier’s shot took a significant deflection of United’s Reece Devine on its way into the net.

And worse was to follow, a few moments later, when captain Galbraith was given his marching orders following a melee that involved most of the players, of both sides, and appeared to include some rough treatment of Hannibal that was not as severely punished. Parity, regarding personnel, was restored, in the 79th minute, when Spurs central defender Marsh was red-carded following a silly altercation with Hannibal, as he hauled the Frenchman to the floor.

Spurs sealed the win, five minutes from time, with a third goal which was made possible by Nile John’s surge towards United’s goal and finished with a powerful effort past Matej Kovar by Kion Etete.

Mark Helm attempts to drive forward from full-back.

Kovar; Helm, Taylor, Fernandes, Devine (Svidersky 84); Galbraith, McCann; Hoogewerf (Emeran 65), Shoretire, Hannibal; Hugill.

Subs not used: Mee, Forson, Savage.

Scorers: Bowden 27 (pen), Lavinier 64, Etete 85