Manchester United’s U18s took on Newcastle United in a Friday night fixture at the J. Davidson Stadium in Altrincham. Zak Dearnley scored just after six minutes to give the Reds an early lead before Aidan Barlow extended the lead with a second half hat-trick, including one from the penalty spot, to secure a 4-0 victory.
Kieran McKenna’s side were without three of their regular players as Lee O’Connor, Angel Gomes, and Indy Boonen were on international duty for Republic of Ireland, England, and Belgium respectively. Zak Dearnley started his first league game since returning from injury. Newcastle were only able to name three players on their bench after losing Elias Fritjof Sørensen in the warm-up.
Newcastle had a good chance early in the game, when one of their players got past Max Dunne and Tyrell Warren. Fortunately, Callum Whelan had tracked back and was then on hand to clear after Alex Fojticek spilled the ball after saving. Moments later, Zak Dearnley gave United the lead. Whelan found Jake Kenyon and the left full-back sent a lovely looping ball onto the foot of Dearnley. He controlled the ball and then with his second touch sent it past Ben Smith. That’s Dearnley’s third goal in three games since he returned from injury.
A clash of heads for two of the Newcastle players looked as though it would disrupt their game, especially when Kelland Watts was forced off due to the injury he picked up. However, the visitors did well to keep in the game. The Reds, however, had several opportunities to extend their goal cushion but failed to do so in the first half.
Nishan Burkart and Aidan Barlow linked up well as the pair ran towards goal. Barlow made his way into the box, however, instead of shooting he tried to square the ball back to Burkart. That choice gave the Magpie’s defence the opportunity to stop the ball. Shortly afterwards, Burkart had a great chance to make it two. The striker ended up one-on-one with Ben Smith but his shot was aimed straight at the goalkeeper, who made the save.
There were further attempts from United to increase the lead from Barlow, Dearnley, and Ethan Hamilton but they couldn’t find the back of the net. Meanwhile for the visitors Craig Spooner’s shot from distance didn’t trouble Alex Fojticek since a deflection took most of the sting from the shot. Then just before half-time the Magpie’s broke forward through Lewis Cass. The ball made it’s way to Adam Wilson and his effort was sent wide due to a defensive intervention from Dunne.
The opening stages of the second half were a little more balanced between the two sides. However, just before the hour mark Barlow scored to give the home side a two goal cushion. Good thinking from Josh Bohui saw him stop the ball instead of running to the byline. He played the ball into the box which the Newcastle defence could only clear as far as Hamilton. The Scot’s shot made it’s way through a forest of defenders to Barlow on the back post who after a bit of a scramble put the ball over the line.
A strong effort from Hamilton on the turn tested Ben Smith, as the midfielder showed that he had brought his shooting boots this evening. Then United were gifted the chance to improve the scoreline when Kieren Aplin brought down Barlow from behind in the penalty area. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Barlow popped up to take the penalty he won, and dispatched it neatly.
With ten minutes remaining Barlow got the ball on the edge of the area. The forward had a hat-trick in sight and smashed the ball past Ben Smith into the roof of the net. It’s a just reward for the patience the 17-year old has shown this season, as this was only his third start of the campaign.
The win secures United’s position in the top tier of the u18 league and they will compete against the top teams from the U18s Premier League Northern and Southern divisions.
Man United: Fojticek, Tanner, Warren, Dunne, Kenyon, Dearnley (Sang 69′), Whelan (c), Barlow (Ercolani 92′), Hamilton, Bohui (Spratt 83′), Burkart.
Unused Substitutes: M. Johnstone, Barrett.
Goal(s): Dearnley (6′), Barlow (59′, 67′ [p], 80′).
Man of the Match: Aidan Barlow.
Newcastle United: B. Smith, Cass, Kitchen, Adu-Peprah, Aplin, Wilson, Longstaff, Lowther, Sangare, C. Smith, Watts (Spooner 16′).
Unused Substitutes: Gamblin, Huuhtanen.
Booking(s): Adu-Peprah (41′).