Manchester United’s u18s hosted Middlesbrough this morning after a late change in location during the week. With the match originally scheduled as a home match for Middlesbrough, the fixture changed to take place in Carrington due to the expected weather in the northeast.
The bad weather couldn’t be fully avoided though as Middlesbrough’s team bus arrived late, causing a 15 minute delay to the the kickoff.
The most surprising piece of news before the match though was the return of Willy Kambwala, the French centre back who has spent much of the last two seasons out with injuries. Having recovered recently, Kambwala’s inclusion was a shock as he is actually a week too old for the u18s age group. It is unclear if United obtained special dispensation to field the over-age defender for the match.
The on pitch action was just as exciting too as early on Boro played a perfect defence-splitting pass to take Louis Jackson out and put the left winger through on goal, but Eric Hanbury came out out quick to dive on the ball.
In the 10th minute, Boro’s Ajay Matthews was found open in the box for an audacious bicycle kick that almost looped over Hanbury, who just managed to tip the ball over the bar.
A minute later Hanbury was scrambling again as Boro whipped in a wide free kick and James Nolan’s header inadvertently went back towards goal before hitting the post and out.
But the opening goal would come at the other end shortly after, when Ethan Wheatley was given a gift from the Boro keeper, Nathan Fisher. Wheatley crossed from the byline straight to the keeper but Fisher allowed the ball to slip through his hands and into the net.
Boro looked to pull one back with low cross from the right which was taken off the foot of the striker by Hanbury with a vital fingertip on the ball.
In the 24th minute, an incredible 60 yard run from Jack Moorhouse evaded four tackles but unfortunately ended with a blocked shot, a move which deserved to end in a goal for the midfielder.
United would double the tally before the break through the red hot Manni Norkett, who dispatched his seventh of the season. The forward latched onto a through ball and did well to hold off the defender to bring the ball onto his left and strike past the keeper.
In the second half Adam Berry came close with a long range effort cutting in from the left that bounced and dipped just before the keeper, forcing a good save.
Shortly after Boro worked a long range attempt of their own at the edge of the box from AJ Bridge that sailed wide of the left post.
United would hit on the counter with Norkett’s pace down the left driving into the box to find Moorhouse at the back post, who blasted it into the roof of the net, capping off a spectacular display from the young midfielder.
United would run out 3-0 winners, seeing them move two places up the table into 8th, albeit still with a number of games in hand over the teams above them.
United: Hanbury, Jackson, Kambwala, Aljofree, Nolan, Baumann (Ibragimov 65), Moorhouse, Berry, Musa, Wheatley (Scanlon 59), Norkett
Unused subs: Wooster, Kamason, Munro