Manchester United’s u23s played hosts to Crystal Palace yesterday with Tom Heaton dropping down to get some game time between the sticks.
Crystal Palace immediately caused troubles for United’s backline with a long diagonal ball towards the box which was eventually scrambled clear.
United’s hectic start was compounded by the 35-year-old Heaton in the second minute, when the experienced keeper took a poor touch on the ball and gifted Palace an opening goal.
The early wake up call saw United calm down and add some composure in the midfield with neat passing from Martin Svidersky and Isak Hansen-Aaroen.
The Norwegian midfielder latched onto a loose ball behind Palace’s defence and centred a low cross into Anthony Elanga, who redirected his effort just wide.
United were still open defensively though, as Palace got in behind Charlie Wellens and cut back for a strike at the edge of the box, forcing a stretching save from Heaton.
It was a day for goalkeeper blunders as Palace’s keeper made a mess of coming for Hansen-Aaroen’s chipped through ball and the ball rolled through to Charlie McNeill to tap into an open net to draw it level in the 13th minute.
United looked to take the lead shortly after through a blistering counter attack with Hansen-Aaroen pulling strings again. Elanga burst through down the left but good defending forced him to shoot from a wider angle and the keeper was able to save.
Both sides traded blows back and forth but neither could strike again and at the half time break the teams went in at 1-1.
The second half started as badly as the first half for United though as they conceded within the opening minutes again.
Sloppy passing in the midfield saw possession given away and with just one pass, Palace cut through United’s backline giving John-Kymani Gordon an easy finish from eight yards out.
Another gifted goal conceded, something which has been a common feature during Neil Wood’s reign.
Crystal Palace continued to create chances including a well struck long shot from Nya Kirby, forcing a big rebound from Heaton which was almost pounced on.
It was another United giveaway as Charlie Savage’s cross field pass was intercepted, launching a counter attack which ended with a shot destined for the top corner being tipped over by Heaton.
United almost drew level through some total football passing from Alvaro Fernandez, Elanga and Hansen-Aaroen down the left. Hansen-Aaroen slipped through McNeill into the box who laid it back for Elanga to run onto from 12 yards out but he couldn’t finish what was a spectacular move.
That was to be United’s last big chance of the match, which ended with the final score 1-2.
Head of Academy player development, Justin Cochrane, didn’t mince his words after the match saying they “need to be better than that, predominantly with the ball.”
He also added that the players “still need to learn that this is the modern game, this is what is required at this level and the level they are trying to get to, so they need to improve.”
United: Heaton, Wellens, Mengi, Hardley, Fernandez, Svidersky (Garnacho 70), Savage, Iqbal, Hansen-Aaroen, Elanga, McNeill (Hoogewerf 83)
Unused subs: Mastny, Jurado, McShane