Following two wins and a defeat in pre-season Warren Joyce’s side aimed to step closer to securing silverware in the reserves first competitive fixture this season against Oldham Athletic in the semi-final of last season’s Lancashire Senior Cup.
Matthew Olosunde’s first half volley was cancelled out by a header from Jake Cassidy at the start of the second half but Oldham went through after winning 4-3 on penalties.
The reserves were without many of their senior members amidst loan rumours. Last season’s U21s title-winning captain James Weir was available, along with U18s player of the year Axel Tuanzebe and U21s regular Joe Riley. Meanwhile, Matthew Olosunde made his debut at reserve level.
Oldham started well and were arguably the better side in the first half. They visitors placed United under a decent spot of pressure as their first team squad were battling for starting places in their season opener this weekend.
Riley started in the unfamiliar position of right-back, and showed that he still retains his swashbuckling style with a lovely run down the right flank from his own half into the final third. He passed to Matthew Willock but too many Oldham players were on hand and possession was lost.
Tuanzebe made a good block from an Oldham chance but following on from that Sadiq El Fitouri followed in on Carl Winchester in the penalty area and Oldham and United fans were left flummoxed by the referee’s decision not to award a penalty to the Latics.
Shortly afterwards, United took the lead, arguably against the run of play, through unlikely goalscorer Matthew Olosunde. The player who played at left-back for the u18s having signed in January, started at right wing. Some good work from Regan Poole saw a lovely cross put into the box for the American youngster to volley in past Chris Kettings in the Oldham goal.
Weir was subbed off at half time after he appeared to have picked up a knock to his knee during the first half. Tosin Kehinde replaced him while Sean Goss took over the armband for the second half. Shortly after the restart however, a looping header from Latic forward Jake Cassidy cancelled out Olosunde’s first half strike.
While United did step up their attacking threat in the second half with a number of shots from Scott McTominay and Devonte Redmond, the Oldham defence and Kettings were equal to the efforts and successfully denied United the opportunity to retake the lead. Dean Henderson also had to be alert to deny Luke Woodland.
As the match wore on, Warren Joyce brought on attack-minded players Demetri Mitchell and Callum Gribbin to see if United could win the match outright. Goss came closest when the ball arrived at his feet just outside the 6-yard area but he didn’t seem to anticipate that the ball would reach him and didn’t get enough on the shot. With the scores tied 1-1 at the full-time whistle, the match went directly onto a penalty shootout.
The first two penalties weren’t scored; McTominay’s effort was saved by Kettings before Cassidy had a John Terry moment slipping as he took the spot-kick and sending it over the crossbar. Things improved for both sides then with Goss, Redmond, and Poole for United, and Brown, Glackin, and Edmundson scoring for the visitors. Mitchell tried to be clever and chip the ball into the top corner for his penalty, however, he sent it over the crossbar. That miss removed the pressure from Kallum Mantack who sent the ball past Henderson.
The penalty shoot out loss means that United depart from the competition at the semi-final stage for two years in a row. While Joyce will be happy with the competitive nature of the game against a men’s league side, he will likely be disappointed that United have been knocked out of the competition.
The league season will kick off for the U23s on 15 August at home against Leicester in the newly revised Premier League Two format.
Man United: Henderson, Riley, Tuanzebe, Poole, El Fitouri, Olosunde (Mitchell 79′), Goss, Redmond, Willock Gribbin 85′), Weir (c) (Kehinde 46′), McTominay.
Unused Substitutes: O’Hara, Warren.
Goal(s): Olosunde (35′).
Oldham: Kettings, Brown, Mantack, Stott (King 75′), Edmundson (c), Klok (Hebble 46′ (trialist)), Trialist, Winchester, Woodland, Cassidy, Osei (Glackin 66′).
Unused Substitutes: O’Neill, Scullion.
Goal(s): Cassidy (49′)