Manchester United’s U21s travelled to Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park to take on Middlesbrough tonight and came away with an important 2-1 win.
After a goal from Joe Rothwell was incorrectly ruled offside early in the game, it was a long wait for Middlesbrough to open the scoring through Callum Cooke. Andreas Pereira equalised from the spot with 20 minutes remaining before an own goal from Nathan McGinley gave United the win.
It was a surprisingly strong United side including a number of players who were in the squad to face Arsenal the previous day such as Adnan Januzaj, Joe Riley, Andreas Pereira, Paddy McNair, and James Weir.
A poor decision from the linesman saw United denied an early lead. A counter-attack saw James Weir clear with the ball in the penalty area. He played the ball across the box to Joe Rothwell who floated the ball into the back of the net. The linesman flagged for offside despite the fact that Rothwell was clearly on by a yard or two.
There were a number of chances for United including a volley from Rothwell, a number of shots from Andreas Pereira, and a header from Paddy McNair. However, Joseph Fryer in the Middlesbrough goal wasn’t overly troubled despite being called into action to save one of Andreas Pereira‘s attempts.
United’s defensive issues mounted with an injury to Donald Love‘s hamstring which saw the full-back leave the pitch before half an hour had been played. It appeared that it may have happened following connection with a hoarding at the side of the pitch. Sadiq El Fitouri came on to replace the Scottish u21 international. Joe Riley also made way at half-time to be replaced by Tyrell Warren, however that was a scheduled substitution.
Januzaj hit the side-netting at the beginning of the second half as United looked to break the deadlock, however, Boro played their way into the game. A careless back pass from Ro-Shaun Williams was picked up by a Boro defender, however, good defending from Tyrell Warren prevented a shot at goal. Shortly afterwards Joel Pereira had to be on hand to collect a shot from Thomas McAloon after some nice footwork in the box.
Boro capitalised on their dominance in the second half with a goal from Callum Cooke from a low drive in the penalty area. United struggled to get back into the game but a foul on Weir in the penalty area by the Boro captain, Jonathan Burn. Burn was given a straight red card and Andreas Pereira fired home the spot kick to equalise.
The last 20 minutes saw United look to take advantage of the extra man. Good work from Rothwell lead to Weir getting the ball on the left. His ball into the box hit off the goalkeeper Joseph Fryer and bounced off Nathan McGinley to give United the lead.
The next U21s league game is against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday 13th March. However before that,United face Oldham in the Lancashire Senior Cup next Monday 7 March in a behind closed doors semi-final.
Man Utd: J. Pereira, Love (El Fitouri 28′), Williams, McNair, Riley (Warren 46′), Rothwell, Poole, Redmond, A. Pereira, Weir (c), Januzaj (McTominay 60′).
Unused Substitutes: Henderson, Mitchell.
Goal(s): A, Pereira pen (70′), McGinley OG (82′).
Booking(s): El Fitouri (66′).
Middlesbrough: Fryer; Johnson, Burn (C), Elsdon, Kitching, Maloney, Jones, Pattison, Jakupovic, Cooke (McGinley 72′), McAloon (Morelli 79′).
Unused Substitutes: Pears, Wheatley.
Goal(s): Cooke (57′).
Booking(s): Burn – straight red (70′).