A rather cold October night at Moss lane was the setting for a thrilling top of the table clash between Manchester United’s high flying U21s and a strong Southampton side which included former Celtic stopper Artur Boruc.
United got off to a familiar ferocious start and soon made the early pressure count when a strong run down the left wing by Joshua King resulted in a Jesse Lingard shot deflecting awkwardly past Boruc in the 3rd minute to give United a well deserved early lead.
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We continued to dominate, working well down both wings and troubling the Southampton full back’s on frequent occasions. Then in the 19th minute, a superb counter attack down the left wing saw the ever reliable Ryan Tunnicliffe power past Southampton’s defence and chip in a delightful cross for Joshua King who brought a great save out of debutant Boruc.
The game then started to die of a bit nearing the end of the first half, with only another Jesse Lingard bullet troubling Boruc in the 38th minute in a first half which saw United dominate and the South Coast outfit often resorting to long range shots to try and test young debutant keeper Pierluigi Gollini.
The second half started very much like the first half with United coming out of the blocks quickly with a well worked corner falling to Captain Tom Thorpe at the far post who volleyed straight at the Southampton keeper. Then, against the run of play, Southampton nicked an equaliser.
Ben Reeves somehow managed to get a cross away from the left hand side of the pitch which found Jake Sinclair at the back post who nodded powerfully past Gollini. The equaliser seemed to have a massive effect on the young United squad with Southampton dominating the game then just four minutes after they had equalised, they took the lead.
United were again exposed down the down Southampton’s left wing and Luke Shaw expertly crossed for Jake Sinclair who rose higher than any other player to nod in his second of the game. This finally seemed to get a reaction out of the United players.
Larnell Cole, who had been at the forefront of many of the attacks, was rewarded for his superb display when he exchanged a lovely one-two with Jesse Lingard on the edge of the Southampton penalty which led to Cole calmly slotting past Boruc from seven yards out.
By this time, United had regained control of the game and where unfortunate not to go ahead for the second time in the game when Josh King selfishly smashed the ball high and wide when he had far better options down the left and right.
But United’s dominance was once again rewarded when man-of-the-match King once again exposed Southampton’s frailties down the left wing and chipped in a cross for Freddie Veseli, who smashed in a powerful volley at the back post.
United looked comfortable and the game looked all but over but then an audacious shot from Southampton number two Callum Chambers somehow managed to beat the palms of Gollini to make the game 3-3 with the last kick of the game. The scoreline was probably a fair one due to Southampton’s resilience and ability to counter attack.
The U21s now have two weeks off before they face Stockport County in the Manchester Senior Cup on October 24 at Edgeley Park for a 7pm kick off.