Manchester United’s U21s took on Sunderland away from home at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground in only the third match for United in the U21s Premier League this season. A second half goal from substitute Tyler Reid proved enough to give United the victory.
Top of the table Sunderland lived up to their league position, dominating the opening stages of the game. Chances fell to the home team but fortunately for United, the shots from Mikael Mandron and Liam Agnew weren’t on target. Sadiq El Fitouri saw an early control of the ball with his shoulder classed as a handball by the referee.
A speculative ball was played up towards Ashley Fletcher and when Vito Mannone came out and collided with his own player, it resulted in him needing treatment for injuries to his face and head. However, he was able to resume playing.
As the game continued, Axel Tuanzebe showed an uncharacteristic lack of composure when he fouled outside of the penalty area and deservedly picked up a booking. The resulting free-kick was sent straight into the wall.
At the other end there was a claim for handball against a Sunderland player, the replay suggested that it may have came off his shoulder, a handball offence according to the referee’s earlier decision against El Fitouri.
The closest both sides came in the first half came in the minutes shortly before half time with Duncan Watmore shot being saved by Sam Johnstone and Matty Willock with a shot from outside the area.
The Reds started the second half much better, shaking off some of the rustiness shown in the first half. Joe Riley who was playing at left back became more involved in the game, making some good runs forward which aided the forward impetus shown by United in the second half. Watmore saw another shot parried by Johnstone.
With just over 15 minutes to go, Tyler Reid replaced Willock and moments later he scored his first goal at U21s level. Reid’s run took him into the penalty area and having controlled the ball after it came off a Sunderland defender he was able to slot it home past Mannone.
The Black Cats kept going until the end. Mavrias saw an effort go just over the crossbar but United were safe in the knowledge that Johnstone would have had it covered even if it was a couple of inches lower. Tuanzebe’s head was on hand to prevent an equaliser when Watmore tried to head into an otherwise empty net.
The U21s are back in action next week against Reading at Leigh Sports Village.
Manchester United: Johnstone, Varela, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson, Riley, El Fitouri, Fosu-Mensah, Willock (Reid 65′), Redmond, Weir (c), Fletcher.
Unused Substitutes: O’Hara, Rothwell, Gribbin, Rathbone.
Goal(s): Reid (75′).
Man of the Match: Guillermo Varela.
Sunderland: Mannone, Matthews, T. Robson, Agnew, Brady, Ledger, Marvias, Smith (Greenwood 74′), Mandron, Gooch, Watmore.
Unused Substitutes: J. Robson, Stryjek, E. Robson, Blinco.
Booking(s): T. Robson.