Report: Chelsea 1 United U23s 1
Manchester United Under-23s enjoyed the experience of playing in front of a crowd at Stamford Bridge in Premier League 2 on Friday evening, the Reds equalising late on to draw 1-1 with Chelsea.
The home side were reduced to 10 men in the second half when Josh Brooking took down Dillon Hoogewerf just outside the area, but it was the Blues who found the lead soon after, Harvey Vale tucking home from the penalty spot.
Alvaro Fernandez, who had dominated much of the game from left-back, brought United back level in the 87th minute, rifling a left-footed strike past Teddy Sharman-Lowe.
United sprang out of the blocks at the Bridge, a string of nearly-chances coming within the first couple of minutes. Shola Shoretire showed nice footwork on the edge of the box before sending a teasing ball into the area which was cleared for a corner.
An end-to-end game ensued, Chelsea's first chance coming as George Nunn floated a left-footed cross to the edge of the six-yard box. Matej Kovar came out looking to claim it but in the end it clipped off a combination of Bjorn Hardley and his opposite man to dribble away to safety.
United came closest within the opening 10 minutes when Hardley played Charlie McNeill through on the left wing. The English striker controlled the pass well and forced a good save from Sharman-Lowe. The rebound eventually fell to Charlie Savage who managed to direct it goalwards with some power, only for Sharman-Lowe to bounce back off the floor and produce another good save.
Martin Svidersky came just as close only minutes later, the Slovakian midfielder connecting with a corner at the near post before watching his header deflect off an unsuspecting Nunn standing just off the goalline.
McNeill pressed well on the wings, stealing the ball of Mbuyamba, bringing it inside the box and cutting it back for Savage who had two efforts blocked before Hoogewerf fired over. The Dutchman fed a perfect ball across the face of goal in United's next attack, but no forward in red could find the required touch.
Chelsea found their feet with a spell of prolonged possession and the pace of the game slowed to a more manageable state. The Blues could have gone ahead when a right-wing cross flicked up off of Hardley and fell to Nunn at the back post. The Chelsea man opened his foot up to try and direct it in between Kovar and the near post, but directed his effort well wide instead.
The home side came out the stronger after the break but United managed to reassert some authority through the perseverant play of Fernandez, and the Reds looked to have carved out a clear goalscoring opportunity when Shoretire clipped a throughball over to Hoogewerf on the left wing. The Dutchman controlled it well with the outside of his right boot only to be brought down by a strong tackle from Brooking.
With both players floored for some time, the referee had plenty of time to take a decision and eventually sent the Chelsea player off. Andy Myer made a couple of changes instantly to deal with the red card but United couldn't immediately make the advantage pay, despite their best efforts.
In fact, it was Chelsea who went ahead when Harvey Vale beat Matej Kovar from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute.
United loaded the pressure on but it required a moment of individual skill from Fernandez to draw the scores level. D'Mani Mellor, fresh from a switch from the right to the left wing, fed Fernandez and the Spaniard beat two men before rifling a shot past Sharman-Lowe with too much venom for the Chelsea goalkeeper to keep it out.
United: Kovar (Mee 90); Wellens, Olowu, Hardley, Fernandez; Svidersky, Savage (Garnacho 87); Hoogewerf (Mejia 85), Shoretire, Mellor; McNeill.
Unused subs: Jurado.
Goals: Vale 72 | Fernandez 87
Yellow cards: Elliot 35, Webster 90 | Shoretire 50
Red cards: Brooking 61