A very challenging game awaited for the young reds as Manchester City, who had won 7 consecutive games before today’s match, started on top with a combination of intricate passing during the first few minutes but it was Manchester United who carved out the first chance when Will Keane cut the City defence wide open with a through ball to Jesse Lingard; whose shot was tame to say the least. But it was Sam Johnstone who produced the first fine save in the 9th minute after a training ground free kick forced him to tip the shot over the bar. However, City capitalised from the resulting corner as poor marking allowed Leigh to cushion a header into the far post.
It was proving to be a typical derby match with fierce tackles, tenacity and commitment evident to all but it was not without a moment of comedy as Will Keane- seemingly confused by the rugby lines on the pitch- stopped playing and picked the ball up whilst in possession in the City box leaving the referee and opposition completely bemused. This did, however, seem to spark a period of good possession as United started pressing the ball with more vigour and created a few decent openings. On the stroke of half time a brilliant cross from Reece James on the right found Keane whose free header went agonisingly wide. It was a chance you would expect a striker of his quality to comfortably finish.
City kicked off the second half and continued their swash-buckling approach but 2 minutes in, Lingard found the ball on the left with City’s right back position vacated. His quality showed as he drove forward at the isolated centre back and finished with aplomb, stroking the ball into the bottom right corner.
Lingard’s equaliser triggered an 8 minute period of end to end football and another goal was guaranteed to come. Unfortunately, it was City who capitalised on huge gaps opening up within the defences as Devante Cole- son of Andy- showed lightning pace to leave Donald Love for dead before squaring the ball for Glendon to tap home.
Our never say die attitude brought promising opportunities as Keane just couldn’t get a decisive touch during a goal-line scramble and Lawlor was tested by Lingard before Rothwell blazed over the bar. United kept knocking at the door but were unable to break down an organised, City team who were clearly contented with their 1 goal advantage. As the rain started to lash down with 10 minutes to go all seemed lost for the young reds. With 2 minuted of normal time left a good cross from Larnell Cole, intended for Ben Pearson at the far post, was taken off his feet by Will Keane. This was another in a catalogue of good chances not taken. As the fourth official showed there would be 4 minutes of added time, Saidy Janko set off on one of his trademark runs down the right but his cross was well blocked.
City saw the rest of the game through with great professionalism and probably deserved the result as their extra man in midfield showed, dominating the ball for large periods in the middle of the park. City’s number 6, Huws, was the outstanding player of the game but the United players had shown glimpses of promise. Lingard looked a threat at times but Will Keane was clearly frustrated by his lack of support up front. Janko and Pearson had decent cameo appearances but it ultimately ended in disappointment for the young reds.
Manchester United. 1
JOHNSTONE; LOVE (62), THORPE, EKANGAMENE, BLACKETT; COLE, PETRUCCI (78), ROTHWELL (75), JAMES; LINGARD ⚽️, KEANE. subs: A. PEREIRA (75), GOLLINI, JANKO (62), VARELA, PEARSON (78)
Manchester City. 2
LAWLOR; DRURY, LEIGH ⚽️ (83), DENAYER, FACEY; FOFANA, HUWS, GLENDON⚽️; BYTYQI, HIWULA, COLE (83). subs: PLUMMER (83), O’BRIEN, BOSSAERTS, BYRNE, NTCHAM (83).