It was academy football day at Manchester United on Saturday with the U18’s finishing early on with a 3-1 defeat to Derby, while the Reserves took on Southampton U23’s.
With an injury crisis, loan spells and two promotions into the first team, coach Neil Wood once again had to make certain arrangements and change the system.
United played with this lineup: Kovar; Fernandez, Devine, Fish, Taylor, Neville; McCann, Galbraith, Svidersky; Hugill, Helm. Substitutes: Mastny, Emeran and Hoogewerf. Due to the U18’s playing in the same day, United had only three substitutes available.
As it may have been noted, both Shola Shoretire and Amad Diallo were absent as they were expected to be with the travelling team in London for the Chelsea game tomorrow.
The game started quietly for both sides as the game was mostly being dedicated to midfield dominance. Despite the fact that Southampton were moving better and trying to test the defence, United had the first two real chances of the game as the Saints’ goalkeeper made a double save of Charlie McCann’s and Svidersky’s shots.
While the result may have not spoken of Kovar’s brilliant work against Everton on Monday, the young goalkeeper has finally been putting the usual performances and he did so once again, this time in a massive block as he denied Smith in a one-on-one. As both Shola and Amad have been promoted to the first team, with Elanga and Mejbri injured, it was time for McCann to step up and once again it was him testing the keeper. Both him and Helm were moving nicely and delivering for Hugill who has not been able to score in the first half.
The system Neil Wood put into today seemed to be giving the right results as Southampton have been unable to get past the defence while Fernandez and Neville were given the freedom to move forward. It was all United as once again Galbraith and Hugill tried to test the goalkeeper, but nothing seemed to be working at the moment.
It was Mark Helm’s time to try his luck and once again it was saved with the keeper tipping it out wide. Well, it did not seem Hugill’s day today as Martin Svidersky played a wonderful ball to him, but ball was surprisingly stuck under is feet and was quickly cleared. Then again, it was Hugill setting McCann up this time, but once again the luck was not on United’s side.
One of the most surprising moments of the game was Hugill’s chance as we were approaching the end of the first half. Joe did well to take the ball from the goalkeeper, but his first effort was cleared off the line while his second strangely hit the post.
The second half started with another United attempt to take the lead as it was McCann again with a low effort. Fernandez and Neville had also been pushing in the wing, but without any luck, however good enough to win United a free kick. The free kick was beautifully executed by Ethan Galbraith from 20 yards out, but the shot is tipped over the bar.
As United were mostly moving forward, it was Southampton testing Kovar on the other end as he managed to save the shot. United made their first change of the game as Hoogewerf came on for Hugill, who must be disappointed for not finishing those brilliant chances. Out of nowhere, Southampton take the lead through Olaigbe as a loss of possession in midfield saw a shot go over Kovar, whose deflection was not enough to keep it out.
Another change for United was made as Harvey Neville made space for Emeran in the 80th minute. United were pushing harder and harder as that result was going against the flow of the match.
Will Fish’s cross found McCann whose brilliant touch got the defender out of the play and he mar no mistake in the bottom corner.
The following minutes were all United as Hoogewerf found McCann this time, and Charlie made no mistake. Matej Kovar was once again top form, United kept the ball well in midfield and Hugill was unlucky to get in the scoresheet. However, Charlie McCann gets the job done in the Snow stadium with the young Reds going back home with the three points.