Manchester United closed their final game of the month in a classic against Leeds United. Just like the game at first-team level, this encounter promised a lot of excitement and potentially a quick start plus plenty of surprises.
When the teams were announced, congratulations were in order as Ethan Ennis, Manchester United’s youth signing made his debut as a red. Meanwhile, Eric Hanbury made his U18 debut. Definitely, the youngsters from both sides delivered and it was a pleasant game to watch.
The U18’s started with: Hanbury; Jurado, Bennett, Fredricson, Murray; Mainoo, McAllister; Ennis, Gore, Mather; Norkett Subs: Aljofree, Myles, Sharpe, Nola, Oyedele
The start of the game was a bit quiet as both teams were mostly focusing on finding weaknesses and keeping an early possession of the ball. Soon enough, Ethan Ennis made his Manchester United introduction as he goes past two opponents, but his shot was narrowly over. At this point, Leeds already knew what they had to face as Ennis, Gore and Fredericson would come knocking on their door soon. Leeds were not being left behind as it took a semi-tackle from McAllister with the ball ending up at Mather who did well enough to pass it at Daniel Gore, and he made no mistake. This was United’s first goal at this level for the new season.
Leeds were picking up pace and it has been an impressive game by Hanbury who did incredibly well to deny Leeds an immediate equalizer. As United were finally settling, Leeds kept trying to making an impression as they had a special visitor with first-team manager Marcelo Bielsa watching. Once again United were doing quite well and they were awarded another goal, this time by Mather who makes no mistakes after a great ball from Norkett who has had his fair share of chances as well. It seemed like it was a matter of time before Leeds would get back in the game and strangely the ball ends up being deflected. A completely different situation from the two games, as United are playing free-flowing football.
While this may have left some spaces at the back for Leeds to counter, United were holding into the game quite well. Leeds were not finished here, as once again they had another shot saved from Hanbury, a brilliant display in the first half. Clearly, the news of watching Cristiano Ronaldo play has excited the Manchester United youngsters, with Sam Mather celebrating in Cristiano Ronaldo style. As the first half approached, United were leading 2-0, yet not comfortably as Leeds were making their presence known.
The second half started with Leeds once again trying to get a goal and potentially start the attack for an equalizer, but once again it was United with a clear early chance through Norkett. In the meantime, Ethan Ennis was substituted, leaving his place for Oyedele. Our U18’s were consistently trying to add a third goal this time with Gore whose shot was quite poor. Sam Mather’s work has been immense and it is showed again with Norkett going through brilliantly. Leeds had a response coming with Picksley, but Hanbury was absolutely brilliant once again. In what seemed a clear penalty, as Norkett was brought down inside the box, the referee only points a free-kick at the edge of the box. It was Mather who executed it but it was saved by the keeper.
With the final minutes approaching, Gore made place for Nolan and on the other hand, it seemed like several United players were struggling to carry on. However, they held onto the game very well, and strangely the referee should have kept a fair game today as Murray was clearly fouled. Frederison manages once again to keep the Leeds scoreboard blank as he clears the ball over the line. After six minutes of added time, as we thought things were going to end at these figures, Mainoo passes to Norkett whose shot was saved, but Mainoo manages to score in the rebound. The referee blows the whistle and it is a deserved clean sheet for Hanbury, the first three points of the season for United.