Manchester United were searching for their first win at U18s level since September when they took on Queens Park Rangers at Leigh Sports Village. They needed extra time to see off QPR in the FA Youth Cup third round fixture. Callum Whelan and Odysseus Alfa scored for their respective sides. Marcus Rashford scored a penalty early in the additional 30 minutes to secure passage to the fourth round of the cup competition.
The first half was a fairly quiet affair with neither side really threatening the opposition goalkeeper in the opening stages. The Red’s first real effort came after 26 minutes from Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Rashford had laid the ball off neatly to the midfielder but his shot went wide.
Ollive Byrne was on hand to deny Romeo Akinola whose shot was top corner bound. Byrne did well to hold onto the ball as it was moving through the air. Marcin Brzozowski denied Callum Gribbin from a free-kick at the other end of the pitch minutes later. Fosu-Mensah saw possibly the best chance of the half fly wide of the post after Gribbin picked out the Dutchman’s run with a clever back-heel. Charlie Scott also put United ahead before the break with a powerful shot which the Polish ‘keeper did well to keep hold of.
Just under fifteen minutes into the second half and United took the lead. QPR had started the second half the brighter of the two teams but the two Callum’s combined, as a Gribbin corner-kick found Whelan in the area, to open the scoring. The talented Angel Gomes replaced Jake Kenyon on the left wing. Gomes was just one day shy of being too young to play in the competition this season.
The visitors equalised in the 77th minute through substitute Alfa. There was some controversy at the time as the linesman’s flag was raised when the goal was scored but replays showed that Alfa was onside and the goal stood.
United then missed a wonderful chance to win the game in normal time. Rashford went on a great run, riding the challenge of a QPR defender to stay on his feet and shoot. He went for power and his shot smashed off the crossbar and out of harm’s way.
Six minutes were added onto the end of the match due to an injury to a QPR player. United lost all composure as they were desperate to avoid extra-time. However the mistakes and careless possession meant that additional time would be needed in order to decide who would progress to the next round.
With only three minutes played of extra time, Rashford was fouled by Brzozowski in what was a clear attempt to stop a goal-scoring opportunity. The referee decided to award the penalty but failed to issue a red card to the Polish ‘keeper. Rashford struck home with what proved to be the winning goal. Shots from Rashford, Scott and Gribbin were all wide of the mark as United held on to a shaky 1 goal lead until the final whistle blew.
The u18s are through to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup where they will face Chelsea at home at some point in mid-January (date and venue to be confirmed).
Manchester United: Byrne, Warren, Williams, Tuanzebe (c), Hamilton, Whelan, Scott, Fosu-Mensah, Kenyon (Gomes 65′), Gribbin, Rashford.
Unused Substitutes: Moutha-Sebatoui, Dunne, Boonen, Tanner.
Booking(s): Scott (21′), Fosu-Mensah
Goal(s): Whelan (64′). Rashford (93′ e.t.)
Man of the Match: Charlie Scott.
Queens Park Rangers: Brzozowski, S-Downes, Williams, Donnellan, Matthews, Eales (Genovesi 74′), Akinola (Alfa 74′), Crichlow, Adams, Darbyshire (Klass 65′), Bowler.
Unused Substitutes: Folkes, Bowman.
Booking(s): Brzozowski (92′).
Goal(s): Alfa (77′).