Coming off their big victory in the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday, Manchester United’s u18s were back in league action today away to bitter rivals Liverpool.
It was almost a calamitous start for United in the opening minutes from Willy Kambwala as he kicked the turf and lost possession in United’s box but fortunately Eric Hanbury was quick to pounce and bail out his teammate.
In the sixth minute it was mistakes again at the back, as Kambwala put Hanbury in a bad position with the ball and the keeper’s clearance went straight to a Liverpool player 12 yards out. Hanbury stood tall though to deny the incoming shot.
United’s first chance came in the ninth after good work by Maxi Oyedele in the midfield. It ended with Ethan Ennis being found open on the left but the former Liverpool player’s attempt went straight down the keeper’s throat.
Oyedele was leading the charge minutes later with an intense press running almost 40 yards to close down the keeper and block his clearance, which ricocheted out for a goal kick.
Joe Hugill looked to be away down the right in the 12th minute but was pulled back by Lee Jonas, earning the Liverpool defender a yellow card.
A moment later Jonas was hitting the back of the net to give Liverpool the lead. A wide free kick by the corner flag was clipped in an Jonas rose at the back post above the marking Habeeb Ogunneye to nod past Hanbury.
A minute later Omari Forson almost equalised with a header of his own from a beautifully whipped in cross from Logan Pye but the Liverpool keeper was well positioned to deal with it.
Harvey Blair was giving United a torrid time down the right wing and got to the byline to fizz a ball across goal, which Ogunneye slid to intercept at the back post. But he inadvertently sent it towards United’s goal. But for the quick reactions of Hanbury to grab on the goal line, Liverpool would have had a second.
Liverpool were still pounding on the door though as they hit the post in the 31st minute but United couldn’t clear and the ball ended up at Blair’s feet to curl right into the top left corner, giving Hanbury no chance.
Just before the break, Ennis hit one back against his former club. Pye slipped him in behind on the left and from a wide angle the winger toe-poked the ball under the keeper to lift United’s spirits going into the break.
United came out on top in the second half but it was Liverpool who would hit on the break down the right, putting in a dangerous cross that Hanbury could only get his fingertips to before it fell to Bobby Clark to make it three for Liverpool.
Shortly after Liverpool looked to be running away with it as Oakley Cannonier made it 4-1. Breaking down the right again, a whipped in cross found the wide open Cannonier in the centre to slot home.
United pulled one back in the 70th, as substitute Sam Murray curled in a perfect inswinging cross to the back post that Kambwala couldn’t possibly miss from.
Before the broadcast replays were even over, Hugill had given United another. Off the kick off, Hugill raced in to dispossess the Liverpool defender and lash home.
It was déjà vu in the 77th though, as for the third goal in a row Liverpool got down United’s left side and crossed to find an open Clark at the back post to drill into the back of the net.
United’s substitutes were making an impact though, as Dan Gore dribbled past three defenders at the heart of Liverpool’s defence before laying off to Ennis to strike and pull United within one.
The goals weren’t done though and United pulled of the unthinkable clawing back a three goal deficit. Sam Mather played Kobbie Mainoo towards the by line and the midfielder’s cut back found Hugill to side foot past the keeper for his second.
United had a chance to snatch a last second victory when Mainoo’s long ball over the top saw the Liverpool keeper charge out but Mather got to the ball first and tipped it round him. Unfortunately, the United winger couldn’t gather his composure and find the net though.
The final whistle was then blown to end a thrilling goal glutted affair with the final score 5-5.
United: Hanbury, Pye (Murray 65), Bennett, Kambwala, Ogunneye, Oyedele, Mainoo, Forson (Gore 65), Ennis, Norkett (Mather 71), Hugill
Unused subs: Wooster, Fredricson