Manchester United’s u18s kicked off their campaign this morning, hosting a familiar face in Warren Joyce who brought his Nottingham Forest side to Carrington.
United started hot out of the gates, testing the keeper in the opening minute with Sam Mather cutting in from the left and looking to curl in an effort, but it was straight down the keeper’s throat for an easy save in the end.
The next chance came down the left again just a minute later though, as Mather played Sam Murray inside, who then centred again for Maxi Oyedele on the penalty spot but the midfielder scuffed his shot wide.
It was still less than five minutes in when Manni Norkett was played into open space on the left to run into, but he was blocked by an incredible last-ditch tackle.
In the 10th minute, Mather popped up inside to pick the ball up and run past the Forest backline to shoot into the keeper’s arms again.
Three minutes later, Mather turned creator. Picking the ball up in midfield, he shielded off one challenge before hurdling another and running into open space. He then passed out left to Norkett, who waited for the keeper to commit before sliding the ball into the near post to take the lead.
Later in the half an accidental collision involving Sonny Aljofree and Louis Jackson almost opened up a gift for Forest to latch onto, but Jackson recovered with a stretching last ditch tackle to poke it away from the prowling Forest striker.
United would double the lead just before the break. Murray stood the cross up to the back post for Ethan Williams to run onto and side foot the volley into the net.
The second half continued much the same as the first, with United on top. Williams played Murray out on the left for the fullback to try a long-range effort that was tipped over the bar.
The resulting corner was taken short for some clever link up play around the edge of the box to open space for Mather. His strike from 18 yards had the commentators fooled, thinking it struck the back of the net, but it had actually struck the fencing behind the goal.
In the 55th minute, Norkett looked to get past the defender to run in behind, but was dragged back to stop the attack. The resulting free kick was taken by the excellent Mather, who attempted to be sly and catch the keeper off guard by placing it around the outside of the wall into the bottom corner but there wasn’t enough power on it.
Finley McAllister’s blocked pass deflected right into the path of Williams in the box for a big chance, but his effort was too close to the keeper.
Mather was causing trouble again when he looked to force his way into the box, but he ran into a congested area and lost possession. However, the defender couldn’t deal with it quickly enough and Murray was quick in to steal the ball and feed Ethan Wheatley to turn and finish from close range for his first goal at the level.
Late in the match, Tom Wooster was closed down quickly and his clearance was blocked and looped up into the air, but fortunately the wind was in United’s favour and blew the ball over the bar.
The whistle went at 3-0 for what was a comfortable win for United’s young u18s side, inspired by Mather’s majestic performance.
United: Wooster, Nolan, Aljofree, Jackson, Murray, McAllister, Oyedele (Musa 86), Williams (Kingdon 70), Moorhouse (Berry 61), Mather, Norkett (Wheatley 61)
Unused subs: Myles
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