Manchester United missed out on the chance to push for the top of the table by losing 2 – 1 to Fulham at Leigh Sports Village.
United took the lead through Nick Powell in a first half which saw the Reds dominate possession. However Fulham turned things around in the second half converting their few chances into goals to claim the victory.
Jesse Lingard was pulled out of the squad late on, having originally been named in the starting XI. Rafael da Silva began his return from his facial injury playing the full 90 minutes. Unsurprisingly he chose to go without the protective mask.
Minutes later Weir, who started brightly, almost found Ashley Fletcher with a chipped ball over the Fulham defence, the goalkeeper came out to to block Fletcher and the ball made it’s way out to Josh Harrop. Harrop made space for the shot and attempted to chip the Fulham goalkeeper, Magnus Norman, but Norman managed to catch the ball albeit he ran backwards into the woodwork.
Rafael had an excellent first half, running up and down the wing with the energy of a Duracell bunny. He went on a fantastic run and tried to pick out Ashley Fletcher but unfortunately Noe Baba got between the striker and the ball. There were a few more chances but nothing which really tested Norman.
Powell saw a bicycle kick saved in opening stages of the second half. However apart from that and a later attempt from Tom Thorpe which was skied over the bar United didn’t really trouble. Several players who were involved in much of the good play in the first half, including Weir, Rafael, and Harrop, were much quieter.
Fulham despite not playing well, converted their chances when they got them. They equalised on the hour mark with a neat cutback which the defence couldn’t deal with. Then shortly afterwards, they took the lead with what proved to be the winning goal when Thorpe pushed Taggart out wide but just not wide enough for Joel Pereira to be able to cut off the angle.
That defeat sees United stay in 4th position in the u21 Premier League, while Chelsea who started in third place this evening leapfrogged Southampton on goal difference having beaten them this evening. A win for United tonight would have placed the Reds level on points with both Chelsea and Southampton.
Speaking to MUTV after the game Rafael was disappointed with the loss, “We dominated the first half – created lots of chances. The second half was sloppy and they scored two goals. They had two shots and got two goals. We had some chances but we didn’t finish them. If we’d scored the second goal then perhaps it gets easier but we didn’t.”
Manchester United: J. Pereira, Rafael, Thorpe (c), Blackett, Janko, Harrop (Willock 72′), James, A. Pereira, Weir, Powell, A. Fletcher (Grimshaw 79′).
Unused Substitutes: O’Hara, Love, C. Evans.
Goals: Nick Powell.
Man of the Match: Nick Powell.