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Academy Match Report: Manchester United u23s 1-0 Chelsea u23s

by Colm Murphy

Manchester United’s u23s hosted Chelsea at Old Trafford last night in PL2 action.

The side saw two changes from the last outing as Martin Svidersky replaced the injured Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal came in for Hannibal Mejbri.

Chelsea created the first chance of the match as Dion Rankine raced down the right and centred for Joe Haigh, who shot over the bar one time.

D’Mani Mellor’s pressing created a big chance in the 7th minute as he stole the ball from the unassuming defender and moved the ball onto his left foot before looking to bend it into the far corner but he didn’t get the desired curve on it, sending the ball high and wide.

In the 14th minute, a long ball into the box from Will Fish wasn’t cleared properly and the ball fell to Mellor for a quick shot which he got the full leather behind but it was right at the keeper. The amount of power behind the shot would have been a certain goal if it had gone either side.

Dion Rankine caused trouble again with his pace as he ran at Svidersky and cut onto his left before unleashing a low drilled shot but Ondrej Mastny got down quickly to save.

Alvaro Fernandez played a great cross-field ball to Noam Emeran in space on the right and the winger slipped in the overlapping Charlie Wellens who struck but the keeper had his angles covered.

United took the lead in the 35th after Mellor’s relentless pressing forced a mistake from Bashir Humphreys who slipped allowing Mellor to steal and square to Alejandro Garnacho to tap in.

United went into the break leading by a goal to nil having been the better side playing at a higher pace and intensity that Chelsea couldn’t match.

The start of the second half saw a change in formation for Chelsea as they switched to match United’s three at the back.

Emeran came close with a free-kick attempt from 20 yards but a finger-tipped save onto the bar from Lucas Bergstrom denied the French winger.

The resulting corner saw United play it short for Wellens to clip a ball into a soaring Shola Shoretire in the middle to latch onto but his header was too close to the keeper.

In the 69th, Emeran squared out wide for Fernandez and the fullback cut inside onto his before firing towards the bottom left corner that was tipped round the post for a corner.

United tried to catch Chelsea off guard with a quick corner playing a low ball to the front post for Mellor to flick on but the keeper was alert and palmed over the bar.

Chelsea threatened late on when Svidersky was forced to cover out the left and was beat for pace by Josh Brooking but he didn’t give up and got back to make a fantastic sliding block to stop the cross.

A last-second corner for Chelsea saw the keeper called up and Brooking’s looping header came agonizingly close but it landed on top of the net.

The final whistle went shortly after sealing a much-deserved win for United and sees them stay in fourth place.

Manager Neil Wood was full of praise after the match for the backline and singled out Will Fish, Bjorn Hardley, and Svidersky saying they “defended the box well and they were excellent.”

At the other end of the pitch, Wood wasn’t impressed with the finishing but did praise the efforts of Mellor who he stated “never stops working and is so unselfish with his work. It’s a full team effort but he plays a big part in that.”

United: Mastny, Fish, Hardley, Svidersky, Wellens, Shoretire (Stanley 85), Iqbal, Fernandez, Emeran, Mellor, Garnacho (Gore 90)

Unused subs: Vitek, Oyedele, Mejia

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