Manchester United lost 4-3 away to Chelsea at the Cobham Training Ground in their third fixture of the Merit Group stage of the U18s Premier League.
Ethan Hamilton opened the scoring but his goal was cancelled out by a lovely strike from Juan Castillo. Conor Gallagher scored from the penalty spot to give Chelsea a first-half lead. Josh Bohui equalised early in the second half but a second spot-kick from Gallagher saw Chelsea retake the lead. Substitute Nishan Burkart equalised in the final stages but an extra-time goal from George McEachran sealed the victory for Chelsea.
United started brightly. Angel Gomes won a freekick in a good position in the opening minutes. He took the deadball but his effort came off the wall and went out for a corner. Moments later, Josh Bohui got the ball into Angel Gomes in the box. Gomes sent it onto Ethan Hamilton. His effort was deflected slightly which sent it further into the top corner of the goal to give United the lead and end Chelsea’s run of five straight clean sheets.
Martell Taylor-Crossdale had a very good game despite not capping off his performance with a goal, and troubled the United defence. He shook off the attentions of Lee O’Connor to strike at goal. His effort came off the crossbar and rebounded out to Juan Castillo who struck home past Theo Richardson, to equalise.
Soon after Chelsea took the lead from the penalty spot. Richardson brought down Taylor-Crossdale in the box. Conor Gallagher stepped up to take the penalty and fired home. It looked like Taylor-Crossdale may have overran the ball, and it was an unfortunate error from Richardson in an otherwise good performance from the goalkeeper.
United, who had looked to be the better of the two sides in the opening stages, were then pegged back by Chelsea. Richardson was on hand to make a couple of top-drawer saves to keep United in the game. Meanwhile, United weren’t really troubling his counterpart Jamie Cumming down the other end of the pitch.
Angel Gomes was replaced by DJ Buffonge at half-time. It is unclear whether the tricky player had picked up a knock of some sort or whether it was a tactical change on the part of Kieran McKenna. United, however, did start to create more. Bohui saw a shot from distance saved by Cumming and that proved to be a warning for Chelsea. Not long into the second half, Bohui found the back of the net. Lee O’Connor played a wonderful through ball to Bohui who managed to fire past Cumming from a difficult angle to put the teams back on level terms.
Buffonge went down in the penalty area but the referee waved play on. Chelsea broke forward. Taylor-Crossdale was up against two United players but managed to make space for himself to take on a shot. He struck the ball well but Richardson was equal to it, getting down to get a hand to the ball which was tipped around the far post thanks to his intervention.
United were in the ascendancy and were the better of the two teams in the second half. Then, Jake Kenyon brought down George McEachran in the penalty area. The full-back picked up a booking for the foul, and Chelsea were awarded a penalty. Gallagher stepped up once more to take it and once again found the back of the net.
A few tasty challenges started to go in. Indy Boonen, who had a quieter game than his usual standards, was the victim of a lunging tackle from Chelsea captain, Richard Nartey. The referee waved play on but the game eventually had to stopped so the Belgian could receive treatment. A while later Hamilton was on the receiving end of a high foot and got studs straight into his neck. It took the combined effort of the United and Chelsea medical staff to assess the Scot who had to be subbed off.
In the meantime, Nishan Burkart had come on to replace goalscorer Bohui. Soon after entering the fray, Burkart was on the scoresheet, smashing the ball in from close range after Warren’s header from Hamilton’s cross was blocked. It looked like a draw was secured and United probed forward for a winner.
Unfortunately it was not to be. Castillo went on a great run on the wing. George Tanner and Callum Whelan both tried and failed to stop him. Castillo crossed into the box and McEachran was there to put the ball in the back of the net, five minutes into injury time. There was still time remaining as a significant amount of time, around 10 minutes extra time, was added due to the injuries and substitutions but the fourth goal from Chelsea seemed to have a massive psychological effect on United.
Man United: Richardson, Tanner, Warren, O’Connor, Kenyon, Boonen, Whelan, Hamilton (Spratt 88′), Dearnley, Gomes (Buffonge 46′), Bohui (Burkart 73′).
Unused Substitutes: Fojticek, Ercolani.
Goal(s): Hamilton (9′), Bohui (52′), Burkart (81′).
Booking(s): Kenyon (63′).
Man of the Match: Theo Richardson.
Chelsea: Cumming, James, Nartey, Guehi, Castillo, Gallagher (McCormick 74′), Dasilva (Colley 87′), Maddox, Taylor-Crossdale (St. Clair 78′), McEachran, Hudson-Odoi.
Unused Substitutes: Thompson, Brown.
Goal(s): Castillo (22′), Gallagher (28′ pen) (64′ pen), McEachran (95′).