Manchester United defeated Vendée 1-0 to retain Premier Section Milk Cup Final when the top two sides in the competition faced off for silverware in the Ballymena Showgrounds.
United dominated the first half in terms of possession but Vendée were effective in their defending, keeping several lads behind the ball. The passing was disjointed from United who didn’t look like getting out of first gear.
A couple of chances fell to Zak Dearnley in quick succession who initially shot straight at the keeper before skying a shot well over the crossbar. The best chance of the first half fell to Demetri Mitchell whose freekick from 25 yards out rattled the crossbar. Vendée’s chances were limited but on the rare occasions they pressed forward the United defence looked a bit shaky.
It was still 0-0 as the second half kicked off. United picked up the pace. Charlie Scott and Marcus Rashford were introduced as United looked for victory. The deadlock was broken in the 55th minute when Cameron Borthwick-Jackson headed home after fantastic work from Mitchell in an otherwise quiet evening for the winger.
Vendée pressed towards the end and there was a nervy moment when a free-kick was given away on the edge of the penalty area with two minutes of normal time remaining. Fortunately, Dean Henderson held the shot well and United managed to claim the victory for the second successive season.
Speaking to BBC after the match, Under-18s manager Paul McGuinness expressed a general disappointment with the performance in the final but was also pleased with the character shown by the young Reds to win even when they weren’t performing at their best.
He said: “In the first half they sat back off us which you don’t get in England. We gave a lot of balls away, a lot of passes away … We weren’t really at our best tonight, but we are pleased to win with not our best performance.”
McGuinness feels that tournaments like the Milk Cup are really beneficial for the overall development of the players, including getting used to dealing with the fans and autographs.
He added: “There’s lots of things about being a Manchester United player, not only on the field but off the field, that can be learned at this tournament”.
United’s Jordan Thompson picked up two personal awards for his performances in this year Milk Cup campaign winning both the Premier Section’s Player of the Tournament and the Man of the Match for the final. McGuinness singled the Northern Irishman out for praise saying that he had done “exceptionally well”.
Manchester United: Henderson, Reid (Scott), Tuanzebe (c), Williams, Borg, Borthwick-Jackson, Thompson, Gribbin, Dearnley, Obi (Rashford), Mitchell (Warren).