Manchester United took on Sunderland at the Aon Training Complex. The Reds could only manage a draw. The Black Cats took the lead through a goalkeeping error which allowed Lee Connelly to tap in from close range. Substitute Jack Barratt scored in the final minute of normal time to equalise.
Tahith Chong was unavailable because he was on international duty while DJ Buffonge was rested having played for the U23s in a behind closed doors match on Tuesday. George Tanner who had been playing regularly at right back this season wasn’t in the squad so Lee O’Connor switched out of central defence to cover that role with Max Dunne coming in to partner Tyrell Warren.
Kieran McKenna’s team started brightly against the bottom placed team in the league with Angel Gomes heavily involved. However, Sunderland came into the game as the half wore on. The visitors played a high pressing game which restricted United getting up the pitch as much as they would have liked.
Sunderland took the lead in the 22nd minute. Michael Woud kicked the ball from his box up towards the other end of the pitch. The ball bounced just over Warren and Connelly’s heads but Connelly was alive to it and ran after it. Alex Fojticek came out to clear but misses the ball and Connelly was there to send it into the back of the net. The Slovakian goalkeeper won’t be happy with how his home debut went from that point of view.
Towards the end of the half United started to create more chances. Joshua Bohui made a good run which put pressure on Woud who was pushed wide. The ball went to Gomes but he elected to shoot into the space that the goalkeeper was running back in to cover. The blocked ball fell out to Indy Boonen who took on the shot but Woud was on hand again to make the save.
United improved in the second half especially in terms of possession. However the team still lacked a bit in terms of the finishing touch. Boonen was linking up well with Bohui, and picked him out with a lovely ball. Woud came out to claim it. Jake Kenyon did well to get possession of the ball and sent it back into the box. Ethan Hamilton went for an acrobatic finish but it went wide.
Minutes later Hamilton had another attempt. This time a powerful drive from distance but again it was not on target. Then Bohui found Nishan Burkart with a low, hard ball into the 6 yard box but under pressure from the Sunderland defender he couldn’t get his shot off.
In response to this, McKenna made changes to his forward line, taking off Burkart and Bohui, and replacing them with Kayne Diedrick-Roberts and Aidan Barlow. Diedrick-Roberts then had two really good chances to score shortly after he came on. His first chance was a powerful shot which hit off the crossbar and bounced out. His second was a free header from 6 yards out which was sent well over the bar.
The equaliser came from an unlikely source. Ethan Hamilton with some great work got the ball into the box. Diedrick-Roberts got his foot to the ball but saw his effort blocked. Substitute Jack Barratt, was on hand to control and finish past Woud. It was the defender’s first goal for the u18s.
The goal spurred United on and there was relentless pressure placed on the Sunderland goal in the final minutes of extra time with some good chances to get the winner but unfortunately it was not to be. Max Dunne sliced his shot wide while Boonen forced a save with a fierce strike.
United remain top of the table having picked up a point. However there are a cluster of teams just below on the table, including Man City, who have a couple of matches in hand on United.
Man United: Fojticek, O’Connor, Warren (c) (Barrett 87′), Dunne, Kenyon, Boonen, Whelan, Gomes, Hamilton, Bohui (Diedrick-Roberts 65′), Burkart (Barlow 65′).
Unused Substitutes: M. Johnstone, Spratt.
Goal(s): Barratt (90′)
Man of the Match: Lee O’Connor.
Sunderland: Woud, Hickey (Howard 63′), Taylor, Young, McAughtrie, Allan (Fowler 76′), Bale, Hackett, Diamond (Krusnell 81′), Connelly, Kimpioka.
Unused Substitutes: Patterson, Best.
Goal(s): Connelly (22′).
Booking(s): Hickey (46′), Kimpioka (55′), McAughtrie (58′), Bale (81′).