For the second game in a row Manchester United’s U18s played a Friday evening fixture at the J. Davidson Stadium and the Reds third game of the season ended in a 3-2 victory over Derby County.
United led 2-0 at half-time through Ethan Hamilton and Zach Dearnley but Alex Babos pulled one back for the Rams with 20 minutes remaining in the game and Alex Cover equalised in the 83rd minute. However, Callum Gribbin scored an 87th minute free-kick to secure all three points.
A delayed kick-off due to traffic meant Paul McGuinness’ side were truly playing a night fixture under the lights. Derby had the first chance just two minutes into the game when Cameron Cresswell’s shot struck the crossbar. However, it was the Reds who took the lead in the 14th minute. A Gribbin corner was flicked on by Marcus Rashford, a Derby defender cleared but the ball fell to the right-back Hamilton who blasted into the back of the net.
Just five minutes later, Dearnley doubled the lead. DJ Buffonge, who was starting his third game on trial from Fulham, sent a lovely cross into the box which found Dearnley ready to volley past Matt Yates in the Derby County goal. That was Dearnley’s second goal in the opening three games, with both having been assisted by DJ Buffonge.
United could have extended the lead even further in the first half. Charlie Scoot forced the Rams keeper into a save, before Hamilton saw a header cleared off the line. Then Dearnley was set through on goal after a lovely ball rom Rashford but unfortunately he could only head the ball into the ground giving the defender a chance to clear.
However, on the down side, DJ Buffonge had to be replaced due to injury with around ten minutes remaining in the first half. The midfielder appeared to pull something as he hit a cross-field pass. Jake Kenyon came on for him.
Derby started the second half very brightly and put a lot of pressure on the Reds. Hamilton had to make a clearance off the line in the opening minutes before Ram’s striker Tom Mellors hit the crossbar.
Derby’s attack minded play looked as though it would create openings for United but it was the visitors who found the back of the net. A poor clearance from Dearnley fell to Alex Babos near the penalty spot, where he finished with the outside of his foot.
Alex Cover then equalised for Derby with seven minutes remaining. The central defender was up for a corner and remained up as the ball was sent back in. Oliver Byrne, in the United goal, came for the ball but got nothing of it and Cover was able to head into the bottom corner.
Cresswell, who proved a threat all evening, set up Davidson-Miller who almost made it 3-2 but missed his chance to give his team the win. That meant that United were still in with a shout. Gribbin saw a lovely shot curl towards the top corner but it hit the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards, Gribbin was fouled outside the box within shooting distance. He stepped up to take the free-kick and threaded the ball through the wall, over the ducking Hamilton, to curl into goal and claim all three points.
The U18s next fixture will take place on Saturday 5 September away at Newcastle United Football Academy. Kick-off at 12:30pm.
Manchester United: Byrne, Reid, Warren, Williams (c), Hamilton, Dearnley (Diedrick-Roberts 79′), Kehinde (Whelan 69′), Scott, Buffonge (trialist) (Kenyon 36′), Gribbin, Rashford.
Unused Substitutes: Dorrington, Dunne.
Goal(s): Hamilton (14′), Dearnley (19′), Gribbin (87′).
Booking(s): Gribbin (71′)
Derby County: Yates, Stabana, Bateman (Goode 72′), Cover, MacDonald, Carvell, Edwards, Holmes (trialist) (Hayward 67′), Cresswell, Babos, Mellors (Davidson-Miller 67′).
Unused Substitutes: Leverton, Davey.
Goal(s): Babos (70′), Cover (83′).