Kieran McKenna took charge of his first game as U18s boss at the Aon Training Complex as Man United took on Middlesbrough. Indy Boonen scored the first goal of the new era. Boro equalised at the start of the second half but a brace from trialist Idris Kanu put United back in the lead. The 5-1 victory was sealed with goals from the influential pairing of Angel Gomes and DJ Buffonge.
The U18s were keen to impress to the new man in charge and to get some more points on the board against a Boro side who were unbeaten since January.
A number of players weren’t available for the game including Nishan Burkart, Tahith Chong, Zach Dearnley and Callum Gribbin. Idris Kanu, a 16-year-old striker, is on trial with United and he started up front having been at West Ham last season.
In his pre-match interview with MUTV, McKenna said that he likes his teams to play attacking football and that was on show as United played a high pressing game. The match was well balanced for most of the first-half with forays forward from United as well as a need for the defenders Max Dunne and Lee O’Connor to be alert.
The trio of Buffonge, Boonen, and Gomes showed early flashes of flair albeit without the finishing touch initially. Boro goalkeeper, Zach Hemmings, saved a free-kick from Angel Gomes which was on target. Boonen gave United the lead with under 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Gomes received the ball after a strong run from Buffonge, he found Boonen who fired past Hemmings at the near post from a tight angle. Moments later trialist Kanu almost scored a second for United when his cheeky back heel in the box just trickled by on the wrong side of the goalpost.
Boro however got back on level terms within the opening minutes of the second half after they were awarded a free-kick. Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui punched the ball downwards into a dangerous area. The ball went out to Brandon Holdsworth who powered home the equaliser and it looked like Boro would make things far more difficult for United, particularly when the goal was followed up by a strike from Jack Lambert. This time however, Moutha-Sebtaoui made the save and McKenna’s side found another gear.
Kanu put the Reds back in front. Once again Buffonge and Gomes were involved in the build-up, linking up well, and Gomes played the ball to Kanu for a tap in at the far post. He followed up shortly afterwards with his second, this time profiting from good build-up play on the other flank from Boonen and Jake Kenyon. Boonen got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Kanu to score. Unfortunately Kanu was forced off before there was a possibility of him bagging a hat-trick although he shouldn’t be too disheartened after showcasing good attacking play in the 64 minutes he was on the pitch.
United’s fourth goal of the game came directly from the link up play between Gomes and Buffonge who have a good understanding on the pitch. Buffonge beat two Boro players and squared the ball to Gomes who found the back of the net from 6 yards out.
Despite being 4-1 to the good, United didn’t change their attacking style. Kenyon, playing left-back, broke forward in the 90th minute with a determined run. He pulled the ball back into the box and Buffonge was there to cap an excellent performance with a goal, United’s fifth of the match. That wasn’t all as Hemmings had to be alive to take the ball off Ethan Hamilton‘s head as the captain looked to add a sixth in extra time however it wasn’t to be.
That’s two 5-1 victories in a row and the U18s will look to build on their winning streak when they take on West Brom at home next week
Man United: Moutha-Sebtaoui, Tanner, Dunne (Ercolani 51′), O’Connor, Kenyon, Buffonge, Whelan, Hamilton (c), Boonen (Makela 71′), Gomes, Kanu (trialist) (Diedrick-Roberts 64′).
Unused Substitutes: M. Johnstone, Barrett.
Goal(s): Boonen (36′), Kanu (52′, 59′), Gomes (68′), Buffonge (90′).
Man of the Match: Angel Gomes.
Middlesbrough: Hemmings, Convery, Tavares, Cook (c), Renton, Liddle, Lambert, Reading (M. Wilson 68′), Holdsworth (J. Wilson 55′), Cooke, Curry (O’Neill 82′).
Unused Substitutes: Malley, Bryn.
Goal(s): Holdsworth (47′).
Booking(s): Hegarty (51′), Liddle (77′).