Reigning FA Youth Cup champions Manchester United’s u18s kicked off their defence of the title today away to Crystal Palace at a fog covered Selhurst Park.
United took an early lead as Manni Norkett got in behind on the left and raced into the box to centre for a scrambling Ethan Williams to strike off the defender and the deflected shot fell into the path of Maxi Oyedele at the back post to slot home.
Crystal Palace almost immediately responded with a cross from the right that was redirected towards goal from close range but was kept out by Elyh Harrison’s sprawling foot.
The fantastic save was the catalyst for a quick counter attack with a long ball from Williams down the middle to Norkett running in behind straight at goal and the striker side-footed past the keeper to double United’s lead.
In the 21st minute, Dan Gore picked up the ball wide and drove centrally to unleash a shot from the edge of the box that the keeper couldn’t hang onto initially but recovered to pounce on the ball.
Some great play between Dan Gore and Sam Mather ended with a whipped cross from Gore from the left onto the head of Victor Musa which looked like it was destined for the corner only to be denied by the Palace keeper.
Moments later, a corner was delivered onto Sonny Alofree’s head which was blocked and fell to Tyler Fredricson from close range that was unbelievably kept out by the Palace keeper, Jackson Izquierdo. The following corner saw Musa rise to head towards the bottom right corner that was pushed out well by Izquierdo again.
Palace had a chance to pull one back late on in the half as the ball ping-ponged around the United box before being lashed over by Freddie Bell to keep the score 0-2 going into the break.
Early in the second half Palace would pull one back though, as Bell didn’t make the same mistake, this time turning James Nolan at the edge of the box and striking from a wide angle with such power that Harrison could only push up and into the roof of the net.
Five minutes later, Adler Nascimento cut in from the left and curled over the reach of Harrison but fortunately for United the ball crashed off the crossbar and out.
In the 76th, Jack Moorhouse fed Mather on the left and he cut back onto his right foot and curled it perfectly into the top right corner giving the keeper no chance.
Sam Mather, take a bow! 🪄 pic.twitter.com/E5jGkqhrIm
— academyarena Utd (@academyarenaUTD) December 11, 2022
Late in injury time Gore almost added to the tally with a fantastic strike from 20 yards that ringed off the crossbar but ultimately it was enough as United ran out 1-3 winners to advance to the next round as they chase the illustrious FA Youth Cup for the second year in a row.
United: Harrison, Jackson, Fredricson, Aljofree, Nolan, Oyedele, Gore, Williams, Mather (Berry 90), Musa (Moorhouse 61), Norkett (Wheatley 73)
Unused subs: Wooster, Fitzgerald, Lacey