Manchester United’s U21s booked their place in the Barclays Premier League U21 Elite Group play-offs with a convincing win over midlands outfit West Bromwich Albion thanks to an early Larnell Cole goal.
Warren Joyce included Tom Cleverley and Alexander Buttner in a starting XI which also consisted of the hotly tipped youngster Adnan Januzaj who started up front on his own just days after receiving his first team squad number.
After an even first five minutes, United made the breakthrough when a lovely passing move consisting of no less than 14 passes saw the lively Jesse Lingard fire in a pin point cross for the on-rushing Larnell Cole who scrambled in from three yards.
United then got a firm grip of the game and nearly doubled their lead just before the twenty minute mark when man of the match Lingard saw his low shot well saved at West Brom’s near post.
As the game continued, United were in full control when Lingard and Cole teamed up once again but Cole’s 20 yard effort was expertly saved by former United keeper Luke Daniels, who was returning to his old club after having a seven year spell at United as a youngster.
West Brom then got back into the game just after the half hour mark when a mistake by skipper Tom Thorpe handed West Brom a three on two chance but Ben Amos saved bravely at the feet of Scott Allen.
The Baggies then went close once again when a superb side footed Allen strike left United keeper Ben Amos stranded but rebounded back off the outside of the post to leave West Brom thinking what could have been.
The second half was a completely different affair to the first. Both teams struggled to create any chances.
However, United did go close in the 80th minute when Lingard and Cole exchanged passes to thread through a lovely ball to Ryan Tunnicliffe who could only shoot straight at the keeper from 12 yards.
West Brom nearly got an all important equaliser in the last minute when a cross in from the right caused havoc in United’s defence but Ben Amos smothered the ball graciously.
United now head into a busy week of football as they host Oldham at Carrington on Friday before they entertain Liverpool at the Old Trafford on bank holiday Monday.