Manchester United’s u18s were back in action yesterday in the illustrious FA Youth Cup away to Reading.
The match started at a high pace with Reading on top and causing a lot of trouble to United’s full-backs.
Reading were unable to take advantage of their early openings though, with poor final delivery into the box letting them down on a number of occasions.
It was against the run of play when United opened the scoring in the 25th minute.
A pass from Isak Hansen-Aaroen was blocked but the Reading centre-backs were caught flat footed on the loose ball and Kobbie Mainoo was able to pop in and steal the ball before finishing with his left foot.
United were making Reading rue their missed chances as the Manchester side was clinical in attack and doubled the lead in the 37th minute.
Sam Mather played Charlie McNeill down the right wing and he followed in with a run into the box for the return ball.
A touch of fortune was on United’s side as Mather’s strike looked to be going wide but cannoned off the Reading defender’s leg and into the back of the net.
It was only a minute later when Charlie McNeill put the final nail in the coffin to give United a three goal lead.
Sloppy passing out from the back by Reading gifted Alejandro Garnacho the ball and the Spaniard quickly found McNeill in the centre, who with a deft feint was able to turn and calmly slot past the keeper into the bottom right corner.
The half time whistle went soon after with United going into the break up 0-3 even though the scoreline was not a fair reflection of Reading’s performance.
The home side kept up the fight in the second half but Radek Vitek did well to claim a number of crosses.
With the foot off the gas, United looked to cruise to victory but Reading finally got their goal in the 83rd minute with a bit of luck of their own. A blocked clearance ricocheted across the box and found and open Aston Greaver at the back post to smash home.
It was too little too late though, and United came out the victors. They now await the winner of the Everton and Sheffield United tie in the next round.
Despite the result, Travis Binnion wasn’t full convinced by his side and said after the match “I’m a bit disappointed with the first and last 20 minutes. We knew Reading work hard and ask questions of you. We were fortunate not to concede in the first 20 minutes.”
Binnion did take the opportunity to praise some of the team though, saying “Our two centre-backs were outstanding, the goalkeeper was very good, the midfielders were good. But those players carried us through those periods, and it shouldn’t be like that.”
United: Vitek, Jurado, Fredricson, Jackson, Murray, Oyedele (Pye 85), Mainoo (Gore), Mather, Hansen-Aaroen, Garnacho (Ennis 62), McNeill
Unused Subs: Wooster, Aljofree, Norkett, Hugill.