By Francesco Longo
Manchester United played their first home game of the Barclays U21 Premier League last night against a very tough Tottenham side, winning 2-1 thanks to a brace from Kiko Macheda. It was a high tempo pace throughout with both teams chasing the win and it led to a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes.
The reserve team may have been fighting all the harder because Sir Alex Ferguson himself was in the crowd to watch the game, and he had to like what he saw early on.
It only took a single minute for United to open the scoring when Ryan Tunnicliffe pounced on a dangerous back pass, managed to steal the ball and shift it to Macheda who was already in his stride, leaving two defenders for dead before finding the back of the net after the ball deflected off the keeper and in.
United were deployed in a 4-3-3 with King starting on the left and Brady on the right, but they switched sides several times throughout the game. Keane took a break from the right back role he’s been employed in lately to play his more natural centre back roll and Scott Wootton ably performed in his place.
Tottenham were trying to dominate the centre of the pitch but with Fletcher and Tunnicliffe throwing themselves at any tackle, they were having a hard time of it. As the game progressed, Tottenham started to show more patience in their attack but they still not not break down a United defence that hadn’t conceded for nearly 10 hours of football.
A few minutes after half time United doubled their lead when Nick Powell was needlessly brought down in the penalty area and Macheda calmly slotted the ball home.
The chances started to dry up after this point as United took a more defensive shape. On the 60 minute mark, after having little to do in the game, Lindegaard pulled off a tremendous double save, showing great reactions and agility. It was really was a fantastic show of goalkeeping ability from the great Dane.
Tottenham did manage to get on the scoreboard late in the game through a penalty. Harry Kane went over under a challenge from Wootton and Mason fiercely smashed it in bringing Tottenham right back into it for the last ten minutes. Despite a late surge from the away team, United managed to stand firm and took home the three points.
Happily, both Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher made it through a full 90 minutes with no signs of any problem. Evans had a very good game and commanded the back like like the seasoned pro he now is and Fletcher made sure that Tottenham had nothing easy in the middle of the pitch. I think it’s fair to say Fletcher is still building up his strength and stamina and isn’t quite able to run about with the power and pace he used to but I have no doubt he can get that back if his health allows him to continue to play.