Manchester United’s u21s took on Fleetwood Town in the last match of the EFL Trophy group stage with the security of having already advanced.
The opening ten minutes saw a few half chances for Fleetwood but nothing to test Nathan Bishop in goal.
United’s first chance was a lovely bit of play from Shola Shoretire to drive through the middle before laying off to Charlie McNeill on the left and charging into the box for the return pass to slide it into the back of the net in the 15th minute. The flag was already raised, though, for offside on McNeill in the build-up.
Four minutes later, Shoretire picked up the ball at the halfway line on the left and played a perfectly placed ball over the top for Omari Forson, splitting the centre backs and Forson was taken down as he ran into the box to win a penalty.
McNeill stepped up and cheekily dinked the ball down the middle to give United the lead.
Later in the half, some intricate dribbling by Isak Hansen-Aaroen opened his path into the box before passing across for Sam Murray, whose low effort was cleared off the line. Fleetwood immediately countered down the right and forced a low save from Bishop.
The halftime break came with United still in the lead. Toby Collyer entered the match for Charlie Savage, while Fleetwood brought on several senior players in search of a comeback.
Fleetwood’s Joe Garner tested Bishop early in the second with a stretching save to tip the 20-yard effort over the bar.
Forson won possession at the half and ran to the Fleetwood box before cutting in and curling toward the back post, but the 18-year-old couldn’t apply enough whip on it as it soared wide.
In the 63rd minute, Fleetwood pulled one back through Carlos Mendes Gomes. Marc Jurado jumped into a challenge on the wing and was easily beaten, allowing for Mendes Gomez to be found in the box to turn and let fly a shot that was deflected past Bishop.
Just four minutes later, Fleetwood would take the lead when they got to the left byline in loads of space and cut back for Joe Garner to delicately chip toward the top right corner just out of reach of Bishop’s stretching hand.
Shortly after, Huddlestone looked to roll back the years with a long-range effort deflected wide for a corner. The resulting corner saw Teden Mengi head towards the back and out for a goal kick at the near post.
In the 83rd, Fleetwood tested from range, and Bishop gave up a juicy rebound that looked like it would be knocked back in by Samuel Glenfield, but for the intervention of Mengi to get something on the breaking ball to knock it away.
Minutes later, an incisive pass inside from the right found Carl Johnston on the turn to breeze past the jumping Rhys Bennett, but he couldn’t keep his shot down from 12 yards out as it went into the stands.
Injury time came, and Shoretire stepped up to play hero again after his wondrous injury-time brace against Chelsea on Saturday. This time the youngster was picked out in the crowded box by Huddlestone to take beautifully on the turn, opening the space before slotting away with his left foot to draw the match level.
With the score even at 90, it was time for penalties which would be taken in front of the United supporters in the away end.
Jurado tooks first and puts it high into the left corner. Carl Johnston for Fleetwood rolls it into the bottom left corner to keep it level.
Mainoo came next, smashing it into the bottom left corner through the keeper’s arms. Joe Garner slotted into the bottom right corner for Fleetwood.
Huddlestone calmly slotted into the bottom left corner before Shaun Rooney put his effort into the bottom left side netting.
Joe Hugill also looked for the left corner but struck the post’s base for the first miss. Paddy Lane put it down the middle under Bishop to give Fleetwood the advantage.
Mengi rifled it into the top right corner, a perfect penalty. Mendes Gomes went to the right and was saved by a big hand from Bishop to keep United in it.
Shoretire was saved to the right, giving Cian Hayes the chance to seal the win as he put the ball into the bottom right corner.
Despite the loss, United topped the group with seven points and advanced to the EFL Trophy’s knockout stages.
United: Bishop, Jurado, Bennett, Hardley (Mengi 66), Murray, Savage (Collyer 46), Mainoo, Forson (Oyedele 88), Hansen-Aaroen (Huddlestone 66), Shoretire, McNeill (Hugill 66)
Unused subs: Mastny, Fredricson
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