After the return from the international break, Manchester United’s u23s travelled to Loughborough University to take on bottom of the table stragglers Derby County.
In a match which would be expected to be easy for the young Manchester side, Derby showed up with a point to prove and included several players with first team experience.
This included the England u20s international, Louie Sibley, who has featured regularly for Wayne Rooney’s side and it didn’t take long for him to get into the action.
Teed up on the edge of the box, Sibley had his low driven effort saved by Dermot Mee, who got down quick and did well to palm the shot out for a corner.
The match was a cagey affair with both sides looking hard to break the other down. Charlie McNeill created United’s first opening in the 16th minute when he drifted out the right wing and teased in a fizzing cross, but unfortunately no one was there to get on the end of it.
In the 22nd minute, Derby broke down the left and got in behind Marc Jurado before squaring a dangerous ball into the box, but a crucial block from Bjorn Hardley made sure the score stayed level.
Shortly after, Derby got in down the opposite side with a nice diagonal pass but Alvaro Fernandez defended well to block the cross and concede a corner. The resulting corner was swung in but the towering Hardley got his head on the delivery to clear.
Alejandro Garnacho got involved in the action in the 30th minute when he made a driving run down the left wing before cutting inside but couldn’t find the space to take a shot. As a result he was forced to lay it off for the onrushing Hannibal Mejbri who struck from 20 yards but scuffed the effort well wide.
Later in the half, Hannibal dribbled out of Derby’s press and stretched the play out to the marauding Fernandez. The Spanish fullback cut in and looked to shoot but his effort was deflected out for a corner.
The overhit corner ended up at Martin Svidersky’s feet on the opposite side and with some unorthodox dribbling while almost falling over, the midfielder managed to win another corner. Taken short to Hannibal, his cross found Fernandez, whose glancing header directed the ball narrowly wide.
The half time whistle came minutes later, ending a back and forth half which saw both sides lack the needed quality in the final third to create clear-cut chances.
The second half started in a more open style from both sides and it was Derby who would take advantage first.
In the 49th minute, Derby’s right back broke down the side and charged past Fernandez to the goal line and cut back for the wide open Bartosz Cybulski, who tapped in for his first goal of the season.
In a fashion similar to the first team, going behind seemed to kick the United youngsters into gear and they immediately responded with several chances in minutes.
Fernandez drove down the left and crossed low to McNeill for what looked a certain goal but the sliding Derby defender put the striker off and he missed the target.
Fernandez then linked with Garnacho, who cut in from the left and looked to curl into the far post but just could not get enough whip on it as it sailed wide.
The Spanish pairing were causing trouble down the left again a minute later and a cross found the wide open McNeill but his poor header was well wide.
Manchester United finally got their first shot on target in the 63rd minute through Hardley, when the breaking ball from a corner fell to him. But a tame effort was easy to deal with for the experienced Derby keeper.
In the 70th minute, a loss of possession by Derby in the middle of the park opened a counter-opportunity for United and Fernandez quickly found Hannibal open in the centre.
The midfielder turned and saw the gaping hole McNeill was running through and his splitting through ball allowed McNeill race in and slot through the keeper’s legs and hit the back of the net.
Three minutes later, a poor back pass from Teden Mengi almost presented Derby with an opportunity to regain the lead but the sliding Mee just about managed to get the ball away.
It was a spell for Mengi to forget as moments later he missed an easy interception allowing Derby to break in behind but his recovery pace allowed him to get back and block to concede a corner.
In the 80th minute, Derby attacked down the left and found Sibley open at the top of the box. He side-footed it toward the bottom corner but the stretching Mee tipped the ball around the post.
A huge chance opened for United to counter with a two on one but a poor pass from Garnacho pushed McNeill too wide and he was forced to cross, which was cleared for a corner.
Substituted Mainoo and Savage got involved linking down the left with Fernandez. The move ended with a curled effort from Savage but it was caught easily by the keeper in the end.
Trading blows back and forth, it was the dangerman Sibley again who saw a long range effort force Mee to tip over the bar.
In the dying seconds, United tried to grab a later winner through Fernandez bursting down the left and crossing for Sam Mather, whose effort was blocked. The ball landed to Garnacho who stabbed it wide.
The final whistle was blown with the matched ending in 1-1 in fairly even contest.
United: Mee, Jurado (Mather 71), Fernandez, Mengi (C), Hardley, Svidersky, Wellens, Hansen (Mainoo 78), McNeil, Hannibal (Savage 71), Garnacho.
Substitutes Not Used: Vitek (GK), Bennett.
Read our player ratings for the match here.