Warren Joyce’s men missed the opportunity to return to the summit of the Under 21 league on Monday night, as old boy Jack Barmby, released by United this summer, struck a hammer blow in injury time.
Both teams fielded strong sides, with the likes of Ben Amos, Tyler Blackett, and James Wilson for the home side, and Danny Simpson, Marc Albrighton and Anthony Knockaert for the visitors all having Premier League minutes under their belts.
Simpson was one of three former United graduates turning out for the visitors, with recently departed Jack Barmby and Tom Lawrence also making a swift return to the North-West. The former would go onto make the telling contribution.
United raced out of the the blocks and took only 8 minutes to open the scoring at Leigh Sports Village. Andreas Pereira, who has featured on the first-team bench already this season, started the move with some silky skill on the left, he fed the ball into Saidy Janko, whose through ball was clincially converted by that man James Wilson rounding the keeper and slotting in with his left foot. He was easily United’s best outfield player on the night.
United were indebted to Amos as he continuously kept United in the game from that point. Albrighton, who showed his Premier League class, was denied by Amos and Tom Hopper missed a glorious chance from a Simpson cross. However, the respite was only temporary, the visitors deservedly equalised on 36 minutes: Knockaert, who was integral in Leicester’s promotion last year, set up Joe Dodoo who cooly slotted past Amos.
The tide had turned and Albrighton set up Hopper whose deflected volley was acrobatically tipped over by Amos. Knockaert’s free-kick beat him all ends up but the woodwork came to the rescue. From the subsequent corner City went in front, Albrighton slammed home after United could not clear, the visitors went into the break worthy leaders.
Much like the first half, within minutes United scored. A powerful driving run from Ben Pearson ended with Will Keane’s placed shot turned into his own goal in desperate fashion by Alie Sesay.
Wilson and Pereira, who you can just tell instinctively that they are ready for first-team action, were taken off in successive minutes, probably with a view to Palace at the weekend, which is why it was surprising Blackett lasted the whole game. Our two main threats were saved and Leicester took the initiative.
Ex-United winger Lawrence, who somewhat surprisingly left the club, missed a sitter after Saidy Janko’s error. He slotted wide past an onrushing Amos, when it seemed easier to score.
Blackett caused a minor melee for a studs up challenge with 9 minutes to go which he was correctly booked for. In the first of four added minutes Barmby struck, capitalising on a deep United backline who backed off and his shot looped into the net via a horrible deflection.
Amos did not deserve to be on the losing side, clawing out many efforts. There were positives to take though for Warren Joyce: Tyler Blackett built up hs match fitness by completing the whole game and looked classy and composed as ever. Pereira and Pearson are always developing and look promising as they look to knock on the first-team door. James Wilson, well, he looks a natural and the sky is his limit. Being around the first-team is having an untold effect on his game and you can tell watching him live in that environment that he looks a class above.
Joyce will have to lift the lads as their next encounter is at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
United: Amos; Vermijl, Thorpe, Blackett, James; Janko, Pearson, A.Pereira (Rothwell 65), Harrop; Wilson (Weir 63), Keane. Subs not used: J.Pereira, Grimshaw, Love.
Leicester: Smith; Simpson, McCourt (Chillwell), Sesay, Barmby (Panayiotou); Kennedy, Albrighton, Knockaert, Lawrence, Hopper, Dodoo. Subs not used: Chaudry, Maddison, Scott.