Last weekend I attended the U-18 game v Middlesbrough at Carrington. United came into the game in awful form following a run of 5 consecutive defeats including a very poor performance at Huddersfield in the FA Youth Cup where United lost 2-1. Although there was only a single goal in it, United only created 2 chances of note in the whole game, both by James Wilson and were well beaten by the end.
For once, the weather at Carrington was reasonably calm, the previous 3 home games had been completely ruined by horrendous gale force winds and driving rain, conditions that make it impossible to play any sort of decent football and the result becomes a lottery. Of course its the same for both teams but when goal-kicks are being blown back over the keepers head and out for a corner then any sort of passing game is futile.
The line up was a mixture of established U-18 players and a front line that lacked much experience at this age group.
The prolific James Wilson is now being picked mainly for the U-21 because of his goalscoring form deserving it and as the U-21 don’t have a recognised front man now so many have gone out on loan.
The front line was led by Northern Irish youngster Ruairi Croskery alongside Manchester boy, Devonte Redmond so it seemed they would have their work cut out against a strong looking ‘Boro defence
The opening exchanges were very scrappy and largely even with neither side showing much attacking intentions but just under the 20 minute mark United took the lead through Redmond. United won a free kick on the edge of the area but the attempt was cleared out only to returned into the box. The ball broke to Redmond, around 20 yards out and he calmly sidefooted his shot through a crowded area and into the bottom corner, his first goal since October
The goal seemed to give United the impetus they needed and a bit of confidence too as they soon took control of possession and chances created.
On the half hour, United doubled their lead when Redmond fed a ball to Croskery just outside the box. Croskery’s first touch was a good one, getting the ball into his path but his second touch was even better as his low shot found the corner of the net
A few minutes later it was 3-0 as Stockport born Josh Harrop picked up a measured pass from Redmond and ran from the centre circle to just outside the box where his shot beat the keeper and once again found the bottom corner.
Redmond was playing as well as I have seen him play, his passing was very good and he looked a threat either creating, or scoring, every time he had possession in the right areas
on the odd occasion when ‘Boro did break forward, United defenders soon cleared up any threat with Cypriot Centre Half Nick Ioannou looking particularly solid in the tackle and in anticipation.
It was 3-0 at the break and the second half was only 4 minutes old when United were awarded a penalty. Demitri Mitchell came in off the flank and into the box where he was pushed in the back for a clear foul. Mitchell took the spot kick himself but the keeper saved. Fortunately for United the ball came straight back to Mitchell who easily knocked in the rebound to give United a 4-0 lead.
United continued to dominate and to keep attacking and they were rewarded on the 75 minute mark when full back, Riley, went on a run down the right wing, he got to the bye line and played in a ball to Redmond, who capped his fine display with a very clever little dink over the keeper and into the net to make it 5-0
There was still time for Middlesbrough to pull a consolation goal back from a free header but United and manager Paul McGuiness will be hoping this will finally kick start United into a winning run after such a poor run of results.