Manchester United suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Southampton at Old Trafford in the third round of the FA Youth Cup. It was a surprising defeat for a talented group of players against a side without a win in their last 8 games. Tahith Chong scored the first of three really good goals in the evening before Southampton scored twice in the final minutes to knock United out of the Cup.
It was an exciting team picked by Kieran McKenna for United’s first game in the FA Youth Cup this season, Callum Gribbin, DJ Buffonge, and Angel Gomes supporting Joshua Bohui up front. RoShaun Williams was due to be part of the team but picked up a knee injury in training and was unavailable.
The stands were packed with notable faces. Jose Mourinho attended his first youth game this season, while first team stars, Michael Carrick, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard, and Marcus Rashford were also in attendance. Sir Bobby Charlton, who is no stranger to youth team games, was unsurprisingly in the crowd.
United had the lion’s share of the possession in the first half, and had some moments of good football. Southampton made sure that they had players back defending en masse on when United went forward which restricted the home side’s opportunities.
Gomes missed a great opportunity when the ball came to him in the box. He controlled it well but went for power rather than accuracy on the strike. His attempt to blast the ball saw the effort fly into the top tier of the stand rather than the top of the net.
The best chance of the half fell to Lee O’Connor. Gribbin floated a corner right onto the head of the defender. Unfortunately the Irishman’s header hit the crossbar.
The first half ended goalless, but as a winner had to be decided on the night, both teams came out with more intent in the second half. Jonathan Afolabi almost scored in the opening minutes with a header that he just couldn’t direct on target.
George Tanner found Bohui with a ball into the box but Adam Parkes made the save. Tahith Chong came on as a substitute and made an early impact. He found Ethan Hamilton with a backheel but a challenge blocked his effort. Then Gribbin played a lovely ball out to Jake Kenyon. The fullback found Chong. He controlled the ball with his back to goal, turned and shot, sending it into the top corner of the net.
At that point United were coasting, and Southampton looked out of options, but the United u18s found out the hard way that a football match is played over a full 90 minutes. With 8 minutes of normal time remaining, the Saints equalised through Thomas O’Connor after he was allowed to run into the box unchallenged. His right footed strike flew past Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui into the far corner.
Just 4 minutes later Southampton took the lead. Substitute Will Smallbone went on a 20 yard run without really being closed down. He struck a cracking strike that wasn’t very far from Moutha-Sebtaoui but the goalkeeper didn’t get his hand to it.
Bohui almost pulled a goal back when the ball fell to his feet in the 6-yard area. He took on the shot but hit it at Parkes who was able to block it away from goal. United weren’t able to get back into the game and it ended 2-1 to the visitors.
Man United: Moutha-Sebtaoui, Tanner, Warren (c), O’Connor, Kenyon (Burkart 89′), Gribbin (Boonen 77′), Whelan, Buffonge (Chong 56′), Hamilton, Gomes, Bohui.
Unused Substitutes: Fojticek, Dunne.
Goal(s): Chong (64′).
Booking(s): Hamilton (78′).
Man of the Match: Lee O’Connor.
Southampton: Parkes, Valery, Rowthorn (Smallbone 75′) , O’Driscoll (c), Vokins, Mdlalose (Hale 72′), Klarer, Slattery, Johnson, O’Connor, Afolabi.
Unused Substitutes: Cull, Hamblin, Davis.
Goal(s): O’Connor (82′), Smallbone (86′).
Booking(s): Afolabi (23′), Slattery (42′).