Neil Ryan’s Manchester United under 18 side have been on fire with four consecutive league wins of late. The starting front four of Dillon Hoogewerf, Alejandro Garnacho, Emile Forson and Charlie McNeill have 32 goals between them.
At centre back yesterday, 15 year-old Jack Kingdon, who signed for United from Morecambe at the end of last year, made his debut at this level for the Reds.
For the first ten minutes, Man United were dominant, passing and pressing well around Newcastle’s box and winning corners. After that, however, Newcastle started to play some long balls in behind, turning the Man United defence and grew into the match.
Garnacho and McNeill had some good moments of movement and nifty feet for Man United inside the Newcastle box but their shots were scuffed or saved.
In midfield, Isak Hansen-Aaroen and Charlie Savage had plenty of the ball, Hansen-Aaroen catching the eye with good dribbling and short passing, but Newcastle stayed compact.
Then, in the 37th minute, Newcastle right-back Joe Oliver carried the ball at pace from inside his own half, evading a lunge from Noam Emeran and played a good ball through to the left side of Man United’s box. Jurado slid to intercept but missed, and Joshua Scott scored at the near-post.
United responded well, again with lots of possession by quickening the tempo, but still couldn’t unlock Newcastle’s defence.
After another good break near to half-time, Newcastle worked it down the right with Man United’s defence stretched. Emeran put in a good last-ditch block but unfortunately injured himself.
The half ended 1 – 0, Man United having played some nice stuff up until the final shot or ball required, Newcastle looking dangerous on the break.
Sam Murray, who had just been playing for the Man United under 16s on an adjacent pitch, came on at half-time for Emeran at left-back.
The Reds started positively again in the second half. Hansen-Aaroen was popping up everywhere in the final third and linked up well with the forward-thinking Jurado and Hoogewerf.
In the 54th minute, Forson picked the ball up in midfield and advanced in space. His powerful, 25-yard, left-foot strike was just wide but the Newcastle keeper looked comfortable. Newcastle were happy to restrict Man United to shots from distance.
Against the run of play, Newcastle scored again just after the hour mark. They nicked the ball on the right of United’s midfield and drove for goal. A dinked ball straight through the centre of Man United’s defence found Kyle Crossley’s run. He lobbed it in over the onrushing keeper on the half-volley.
Zidane Iqbal came on for Garnacho on 65 minutes as Man United tried to get at least one back.
After another injury at left-back, Jurado switched to the position. He dribbled at speed into the Newcastle box in the 75th minute and passed to Hoogwerf. Hoogewerf deftly passed it on first-time to Iqbal on the turn, who hit it low. It went in passed the rooted goalkeeper to give Man United hope of a comeback.
The pressure mounted on Newcastle. After a period of sustained pressure in the final third, the ball came to McNeill on the right in the 71st minute. He hit a wonderful, clipped cross on the half-volley with the outside of his foot. It was headed down and in by Hoogewerf at the back post.
United pushed for the winner but were undone again by a good, strong Newcastle break-away down the left wing, taking advantage of the depleted right-back position.
Kingdon was caught out by the pace of Crossley, who squared it for James Hart. His first-time finish went into the top corner from close range.
United pushed desperately to claw back another equaliser, peppering the Newcastle goal and box, but couldn’t rescue the point. The Red Devils now remain two points ahead of Manchester City at the top of the U18 Premier League North table, but City have a game in hand.