Manchester United’s u21s kicked off their EFL Trophy campaign last night against Carlisle United.
The teamsheet included for the first time this season, Alejandro Garnacho and Zidane Iqbal, who dropped down after being involved with the first team. But the biggest surprise was that of Travis Binnion managing the side instead of the u21s usual manager, Mark Dempsey.
The match started with Carlisle looking to throw their weight around with an early long ball over top that saw Tyler Fredricson out-muscled in the air for the flick on which opened up a free shot that was saved well by Radek Vitek.
After a good bit of possession Kobbie Mainoo burst through the middle to the edge of the box and struck wide of the right post.
Marc Jurado got caught on the ball, opening a big chance for Carlisle into the box but a fantastic recovering tackle from Bjorn Hardley knocked it out for a goal kick.
In the 10th minute, some superb quick passing by Dan Gore, Omari Forson and Zidane Iqbal sliced through Carlisle’s defence and into the box for Iqbal to strike but it was blocked wide.
Starting brilliantly, Mainoo had made such an impression in the early stages that the Carlisle commentators couldn’t stop praising him and even wondered if he was available for a loan.
In the 21st, a Carlisle corner to the back post saw Charlie McNeill lose his man allowing a free header that would have been a certain goal but for a big save from Vitek.
Shortly after, Carlisle crossed from the right and a flick onto the back post for the incoming left winger to strike was blocked well by Jurado.
The 30th minute saw Garnacho gets his first opening to run after being played through on the left by Iqbal and the Argentinean cut in to the box and curled over the bar, a chance he should have done better with.
Rhys Bennett took his time waiting for the opening and played a perfect pass over the top for Jurado to run onto who looked for the open McNeill in the centre but his pass was tipped out for a corner by the defender.
Carlisle almost hit on the counter when they burst down the right crossed to three awaiting players but it was Iqbal bursting back that got his foot to it to clear for a corner.
Garnacho looked to cut in again, making his way into the box but completely mishit his shot way wide.
A trade of strong tackles by both teams led to the ball falling to Iqbal who slid in Garnacho on the left who decided for a low cross this time to the waiting McNeill at the back to strike home with his left boot to give United the lead in the 40th minute.
The youngsters’ lead was almost doubled a minute later, as another good ball from Iqbal found Garnacho on the left to lay off to Gore who curled just wide of the right post.
Omari Forson came close in 44th with a curled effort from 25 yards towards the bottom left corner that was tipped wide.
The resulting corner was played short and Iqbal whipped the ball to the back post with such power that the keeper couldn’t come for it allowing Hardley to come round the back post to tap in but the physical defending put him off causing him to hit it back across goal and out.
The half time whistle came shortly after to mark the end of an enthralling half of football from both sides.
The second half started in a scrappier fashion than the first and a mistake by the Carlisle defender when clearing saw the ball bounce off Garnacho and play him through on goal but he couldn’t beat the post with his effort and it bounced back into the the keeper’s arms.
Carlisle countered with the pace of Omari Patrick who ran past Gore and tried to do the same to Sam Murray but the young left back was able to keep his ground and block the shot.
Carlisle would get their equaliser though two minutes later in the 66th. The underlapping run on the left wasn’t followed by Forson allowing a free cross that bounced around the area before being tapped in at the back post by Jamie Devitt.
The skipper, Gore, looked for an immediate response as he picked up the second ball in Carlisle’s half and drove before unleashing from 20 yards that pinged off the stanchion bar behind the goal.
Forson latched onto a Carlisle back pass that was too short and switched the ball to Isak Hansen-Aaroen who’s shot deflected off the post, but Carlisle were unable to clear and Forson was allowed to follow from 20 yards and this time the deflection sent the ball into the net to restore United’s lead.
Hansen-Aaroen played to the overlapping Murray who picked out McNeill centrally and the striker did well to control but his strike from 10 yards was straight at the keeper.
Carlisle chased for a late equaliser with a cross from the right to Patrick who thought he had a free shot at goal but Jurado lunged through the air to make a vital block and secure victory in United’s opening fixture of the competition.
United: Vitek, Jurado, Bennett, Fredricson (Murray 46), Hardley, Mainoo, Gore (Oyedele 90), Forson, Iqbal (Huddlestone 65), Garnacho (Hansen-Aaroen 65), McNeill (Norkett 83)
Unused subs: Mastny, Mather
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