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Academy Match report: Manchester United u21s 1-5 Crystal Palace u21s

by Colm Murphy

Manchester United’s u21s hosted their home opener last night against Crystal Palace after starting the season with a defeat on the road against Arsenal.

Looking to improve on last weeks result, the start of the match did not go to plan for Mark Dempsey’s young side.

It was only five minutes in when Crystal Palace put a high ball into the box from a free kick and Charlie Wellens lost the header at the back post. Dermot Mee came out to punch but connected with it poorly putting the ball into a dangerous area and after two attempts Palce bundled the ball into the net to take the lead.

In the 9th minute Isak Hansen-Aaroen slipped through Shola Shoretire inside the left channel but he couldn’t find a teammate with his pullback.

Five minutes later, Wellens played Hansen-Aaroen into the half space and followed his pass inside for the return ball before striking high and wide from 20 yards.

All of United’s danger was coming down the right side through Wellens and the right back put in another threatening cross that hit a Palace arm in the box but United’s appeals were waved away.

In the 29th, United worked the ball around the box from left to right and Wellens delivered it low to back post to find an open Mateo Mejia but the Spaniard soared it over the bar from close range.

Minutes later, United lost possession upfield and Palace quickly countered with Will Fish isolated against John-Kymani Gordon and the Palace forward cut inside of Fish and side footed past Mee to double the London side’s lead.

It was almost déjà vu immediately afterwards as sloppy passing again saw possession turned over and Gordon raced in cutting past Wellens before a unleashing strike that was denied by Mee this time.

Kobbie Mainoo found Mejia at the edge of the box and he moved it onto his left to open space and smashed across goal and wide.

Wellens overlapped Omari Forson and cut back into box for Charlie Savage coming in late and the midfielder opened up his body to direct the ball to the back post but it rolled just inches wide.

Just before the break United would pull one back, this time from a Palace turnover. A wayward pass from right-back Kaden Rodney went straight to Mejia and the forward slowed the play down waiting for support before laying off to Savage to come onto and side foot into the bottom left corner.

The whistle went shortly after with the score 1-2 going into the break. United were the dominant side in possession through the half but were unable to create many quality openings.

Immediately on the restart a great cross field pass from Bjorn Hardley found Forson on the right wing and he cut inside looking to curl to the back corner but couldn’t get enough whip on it.

It was Palace who would hit again first though. Wellens afforded too much space for Gordon to cut back onto his right foot and clip to the back post for two open Palace players who had krept in behind Hardley and Logan Pye to easily head into the goal from just two yards out.

It was disaster in the 53rd minute as a routine looping cross was spilled by Mee to gift a goal to Palace’s Killian Phillips and then the keeper lashed out by striking a Palace player with his forearm which he was lucky to get away with only a yellow for.

United look to respond with a beautifully curled in cross from Savage to Fish at the back post but Fish was muscled away from the ball’s path.
The match became one sided with Palace endlessly threatening United’s goal and came close to making it five in the 69th minute when they struck the crossbar twice in quick succession.

Noam Emeran came off the bench to inject some pace in United’s attack and got the better of his fullback to open the space and drill a ball across the six yard line but no teammate was alive to the ball and it was cleared.

Palace eventually would make it five late in the match from a corner. A flicked header at the front post could only be knocked in at the back post by Marc Jurado as he attempted to clear.

A poor start to the season with another heavy defeat, United youngsters will be looking to get back on track next Friday away to Everton.

United: Mee, Wellens, Fish, Hardley, Pye, Mainoo, Savage, Forson, Hansen-Aaroen (McNeill 66), Shoretire (Emeran 66), Mejia (Jurado 75)

Unused subs: Wooster, Fredricson

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