Tottenham 2-3 United (Love, Pereira, Miller, Pritchard, Varela)
Champions, again! United did it the hard way in the best game all season after giving up a two goal lead, Varela produced a 94th minute winner at the death to seal the title.
Warren Joyce’s side went into the game without captain James Weir and Joe Rothwell, both out through injury and will miss the final two games of the season. It was the first game in a while where the team didn’t feature a first-team player recovering from injury which seemed to benefit the game as a whole. United had a good following in the regular away section at White Hart Lane. They knew 3 points would seal the title there and then.
There was no messing about, the side knew they needed a win and made the perfect start. Andreas Pereira produced a neat spinning back-heel layoff to Donald Love who came onto the ball and unleashed a swerving pile-driver into the net to make it 1-0, Love hadn’t scored for over three years and it was certainly worth waiting for.
United didn’t stop there as the team looked like returning to their ruthless mid-season form. Riley played it cross field into Varela who produced a clever deep cross into Andreas Pereira, the Brazilian under-23 International got in front of his man and produced a stunning volley to put United 2-0 up within 20 minutes. Spurs looked a typically good side as their youth teams have done against United in the past and they didn’t deserve to be a team that were 2 goals down, but United’s relentless attack looked to be firing them towards the title.
Spurs eventually did get the goal they deserved when captain Will Miller found some space on the edge of the box and found the bottom corner with a low strike. Harry Winks looked the best player for the North Londoners and could have put the side level before half-time but for an excellent stretching save from the stand in captain Joel Pereira.
The North London side came out strongly in the second half however United did manage some chances themselves in what proved to be an open game. The Spurs keeper McGee made a poor clearance which feel to the feet of Donald Love, the goal was gaping from 20 yards out but Love went for power instead of finesse and blazed it wide, a bad miss. Then it was McTominay’s turn to pass up the opportunity to give United a two-goal cushion after he failed to convert from yards out. Pereira went through on goal with one defender to beat but his curled effort thumped the post, you just felt a Spurs equaliser was coming.
And it did, United’s three golden chances to wrap the title up proved to be costly. Spurs got in down the right and crossed low into Joe Pritchard who came off the bench to score against United for the second time this season. But it wasn’t over there as it never is with Manchester United.
94th minutes gone and United win a free kick in the corner. Pereira hit it low to McNair but Paddy’s shot was blocked. The ball fell to Guillermo Varela who fired it into the net to win the title for the reds and produce the best scenes all season, the players charged over to Warren Joyce then over to the away fans. Warren Joyce was being showered in water afterwards as you could see how much the win meant to the players. A thrilling finale to what’s been an immense season for the under-21s who win their fourth title in five years. As Joel Pereira said live on MUTV “They’ve been f*cking brilliant”.
Guillermo Varela’s title winning goal from last night pic.twitter.com/P5F9krQUVa
— United Youth (@United_U21) April 20, 2016
Man of the match: Andreas Pereira, the only player who can make an assist look better than a goal. Produced a poetic turn and back heel to play in Donald Love for his strike before notching a goal of his own with a neat volley. Seemed to thrive playing further up the pitch than normal with no strikers in front of him. Unlucky to hit the post towards the end.
Line up: Pereira, Varela, Tuanzebe, Williams, Borthwick-Jackson, McNair, El Fitouri, Love, Redmond, Pereira, Riley
Subs: Henderson, Poole, McTominay, Reid, Mitchell
3 U21s Titles in 4 years ! ???
Unbelievable team performance ! ⚽️?? and unbelievable support from the fans !!!???
Ps: Sorry for the F word??
— Joel Castro Pereira (@ElgatoPereira1) April 19, 2016
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 19, 2016
The Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year Award shortlist was announced on Friday. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Donald Love and James Weir are the three contenders for the prestigious award. Hard to argue with the shortlist, although I have to disagree with Warren Joyce’s selection of Borthwick-Jackson. He did impress earlier on this season with the under-21s, but his best performances have come in the first team. The more prominent and consistent Ro-Shaun Williams would have been a better choice.
Donald Love has had a fantastic year and prove to be very underrated at times, despite being an important asset to the side. He sometimes goes unoticed, but his cracker against Spurs certainly didn’t. His under-appreciated side showed when I ran a poll to see who should win the award, Love received none of his namesake with 0% of the votes. You’d like to think Andreas Pereira was a close fourth after an impressive season.
Under-21 POTY shortlist has been revealed, who should win it?
— United Youth (@United_U21) April 15, 2016
Samuel Luckhurst, a Manchester Evening News journalist who regularly covers the under-21 side shared similar thoughts about the shortlist on Twitter.
Weir deserves to win it. Williams and Riley should be in the senior squad next season.
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) April 17, 2016
James Weir looks the firm favourite however. Weir picked up the captain’s armband in the summer and has shown his importance to the side scoring some vital goals; such as the winners against Sunderland and Middlesbrough and pivotal equalisers when the team were not playing well against Liverpool and Chelsea. The Prestonian has made the most appearances this season with 21 starts from 24 games, with a respectable 6 goals. Weir’s form also lead to him making his first-team debut coming on as a sub against Arsenal back in February. It is a shame he wasn’t involved in the match at White Hart Lane as he has been the figurehead of the side all season long.
You can decide who you think should win the award by voting here.
Out on loan, James Wilson made a rare start for Brighton on Friday night as they scored 5 past Fulham. Wilson didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet, however he was nominated for Brighton’s goal of the season award with his impressive strike against Charlton. Ashley Fletcher played the final 12 minutes of Barnsley’s 0-0 draw with Burton Albion and got 30 minutes against Peterborough on Tuesday. Nick Powell is still injured and Tyler Blackett is still missing, however there was some good fortune for Kieran O’Hara who started in goal for Morecambe as he helped his side earn a point against high-flying Accrington Stanley on Saturday. But the fortune stopped there as his side lost 7-0 to Cambridge United on Tuesday night.
United travel to St Marys for their penultimate game of the season against Southampton on Monday night, kick off 7pm. The Chelsea match is yet to be rearranged due to their involvement in the FA Youth Cup. With two games left in the season and the title wrapped, I’ll be doing a players season review and season awards pieces, so look out for those in the coming weeks.
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