Manchester United’s U21s followed up their 7-0 thrashing of Norwich City on Monday night with a 1-o win over neighbours Man City in front of a 5,500 strong crowd at Leigh Sports Village.
Joe Rothwell put United in front after 16 minutes and that proved enough to claim both the victory and send the Reds to the top of the U21s league table.
Regan Poole made his debut for United after the Welsh youth international finally received international clearance after a six month wait. Memphis Depay, Phil Jones, Paddy McNair, and Andreas Pereira dropped out of the squad, but 5 goal hero Will Keane retained his place.
Keane had a couple of early opportunities, first trying to shoot through Angus Gunn’s legs before seeing his effort from distance deflected out for a corner. The striker was then instrumental in the opening goal. Timothy Fosu-Mensah found with a beautifully weighted ball to Keane who held up the ball well before sending through an intelligent pass into the path of Rothwell who tucked it away on his first start of the season.
City looked lively at times but were well marshalled for most of the first half by the Reds. Joel Pereira had to be on hand to lift a dangerous header from Tosin Adarabioyo over the crossbar in what was City’s best attempt of the half.
Josh Harrop struggled slightly with injury and at one point looked as though his night would be over early with Sadiq El Fitouri ready to replace him. However, Harrop signalled that he was alright to continue and shortly afterwards forced Gunn to save his attempt direct from a free-kick.
Harrop almost doubled the lead at the start of the second half but his shot just curled wide of the far post. City however came more into the game at the half wore on and United started to tire a little. One of the best chances for United in the second half fell to Will Keane with 10 minutes remaining. His powerful strike went wide of Gunn’s goal.
The Sky Blues piled on the pressure in the final minutes of the match but the Reds defence held out. RoShaun Williams drove forward and succumbed to the crowds shouts for him to shoot but he skied his effort. Regan Poole made a fantastic block in added time after an assured performance throughout, and Joel Pereira also had to be on hand to prevent a late equaliser.
Those three points see United leapfrog Sunderland to claim top spot in the Barclays U21s Premier League Division 1. The U21s are back in action on Monday evening in a home fixture against Reading.
Man United: J. Pereira, Fosu-Mensah, Williams, Love, Riley, Weir (c), Poole, Rothwell (Rashford 71′), Redmond, Harrop (El Fitouri 68′), Keane.
Unused Substitutes: Henderson, McTominay, Mitchell.
Goal(s): Rothwell (16′)
Man of the Match: James Weir.
Man City: Gunn, Smith-Brown (Kongolo 81′), Adarabioyo, Bryan, Angelino, A.Garcia, Glendon (C), M.Garcia (Humphreys 60′), Bytyqi, Barker, Celina (Faupala 60′).
Unused Substitutes: O’Brien, Horsfield.
Booking(s): Bryan (77′).