Manchester United lost in the Premier League Two Division 2 for the third time in a row, this time losing 1-0 at home to Southampton. A first half goal from Jonathan Afolabi proved to be the difference between the sides.
It was a much changed United side which faced Southampton at home on Friday with the U23s squad feeling the impact of deadline day deals. Callum Whelan, Zak Dearnley, Tom Sang, and Matthew Willock, joined Regan Poole and Ethan Hamilton on loan while RoShaun Williams left the club on a permanent transfer. In addition, Lee O’Connor and Scott McTominay were not involved.
However, those absentees meant that Brandon Williams and Di’Shon Bernard could make their debuts at U23s level, after impressing in the u18s under Neil Ryan. Dylan Levitt also made his first start at this level. With such a youthful squad it was a particularly poignant moment when the minute’s silence was observed for those who lost their lives in the Munich Air Disaster.
United dominated the first half and created the majority of the chances. Mason Greenwood controlled the ball with a lovely first touch and then a neat turn. The striker found Tahith Chong in the box but Chong surprisingly sent his effort well over the crossbar. Brandon Williams, at full back, went on a good run down the left flank. Nishan Burkart didn’t get to it though and the ball didn’t come out far enough for George Tanner to take on a shot. Even the centre-backs were pressing forward, Bernard linked with Greenwood and Chong in the opposition’s half before Greenwood’s shot was collected by Jack Rose in the Saints’ goal.
Southampton took the lead against the run of play. Jake Vokins’ cross was well controlled by Jonathan Afolabi in the box. Afolabi turned and slotted the ball into the bottom corner to give the visitors the lead.
In the second half, United again had the lion’s share of the possession and chances but failed to capitalise on those. Some of the closest efforts came from the defenders pushing forward, with even the centre-backs getting involved. Bernard saw a shot from outside the box saved by Rose. Josh Bohui, who replaced Burkart with around an hour played, got on the end of a cross from Angel Gomes but his header went just over the crossbar.
Greenwood had a patchy performance but after some good work in the penalty area his shot was saved. Rose pushed the ball towards Ercolani but it came at the defender too quick and he couldn’t react in time to score. Bernard had another header towards the end after being picked out by Chong but he couldn’t direct it on target.
The result sees Sbragia’s side stay 5th in the league table. With the loss of a fair bit of experience to loans in the transfer window and the current league form, the difficulty of returning to the top division may have increased.
Man United: Kovar, Tanner, Ercolani, Bernard, Williams, Chong, Levitt, Garner, Gomes (c), Greenwood, Burkart (Bohui 59′).
Unused Substitutes: Fojticek, Olosunde, Traore, Barlow.
Booking(s): Ercolani (48′).
Man of the Match: George Tanner.
Southampton: Rose, Olufunwa, Vokins, O’Connor (c), O’Driscoll, Klarer, Tella, Hamblin, Afolabi, Smallbone, Barnes (Ferry 49′).
Unused Substitutes: Latham, Tchaptchet, Jankewitz, D’Lundulu.
Goal(s): Afolabi (32′)
Booking(s): Klarer (5′), Hamblin (66′), Teller (89′).