In the unusual time slot of a Thursday lunch time kickoff, Man United’s Under 18s played host to Middlesbrough.
The United youngsters were extra keen to impress as Harry Maguire was in attendance again, having also recently attended the UEFA Youth League match against Villarreal.
It was the visitors who would impress first though as they took an early control of the match with the majority of play occurring in United’s half of the pitch.
Middlesbrough’s early dominance paid dividends as United’s backline could not handle the pressure and Sam Murray gave away a penalty in the fifth minute after a poor tackle, which Sonny Finch stepped up and dispatched.
Middlesbrough’s control of the match continued as United struggled to cope with the high tempo and press deployed by the opposition.
It was the visitors who would strike again in the 21st minute to make it 0-2 after a free header in the 6 yard box from a corner, defending which would leave the onlooking Maguire disappointed.
Falling further behind kicked United into gear though, with Kobbie Mainoo and Habeeb Ogunneye linking up cleverly down the right wing before playing a low cross to the waiting Murray at the back post who side-footed into the roof of the net.
In spectacular fashion, Middlesbrough responded within seconds to regain their two goal lead. Straight from the kick off the ball was laid back to Jack Stott who pulled off the incredible and struck from over 60 yards to catch Eric Hanbury off his line.
The enthralling fast-paced action boiled over in the 26th minute though as Ben Beals saw his second yellow card and was sent off for a recklessly over the top challenge on Maxi Oyedele. It was a tackle which could have merited a straight red itself.
Quickly taking advantage of the extra man, Ogunneye burst down the right into the box and was chopped down earning United a penalty which Manni Norkett rifled into the top left corner.
The seemingly never ending action finally came to a close for half time with the score 2-3 for Middlebrough.
The second half saw United continue to grow into control which they’d gained following the sending off.
The well drilled Middlesbrough side proved tough to breakdown though as despite all of United’s possession they struggled to breakdown the compact defence.
Manager Travis Binnion could be heard several times shouting as his young side to quicken up the tempo to try create gaps in the resolute Boro backline.
After an entire half of attacking Middlesbrough, United finally found the equaliser in the 82nd minute from a corner as Mainoo flicked a front post header into the net.
United continued to push for the winner but ultimately couldn’t breakthrough again, ending the match 3-3.
United: Hanbury, Bennett, Kambwala, Aljofree (Jurado 62), Ogunneye (Nolan 73), McAllister (Ennis 62), Oyedele, Mainoo, Sharpe, Norkett
Unused substitutes: Polakowski, Fredricson
Scorers: Murray 23, Norkett (p) 28, Mainoo 81 – Finch (p) 5, Whelan 21, Scott 24