After the recent 1-0 win away at Switzerland with the U19’s, now our U18’s were back in action for the U18’s PL Cup opening match against Birmingham City.
There were a few changes made from midweek with Travis Binnion setting this lineup: Hanbury; Jurado, Bennett, Fredericson,
Murray; Gore, Mainoo; Sharpe, Garnacho, Mather; Norkett.
Subs: Kambwala, Myles, Aljofree, Nolan, McAllister.
The match started with the U18’s in full attack mode as they were pressuring high up the pitch. This system was clearly working as Birmingham were nowhere to be seen. A familiar face was playing for this Birmingham side as Jobe Bellingham was starting for the side. Manchester United’s defence made it difficult throughout the game for Jobe to pick the ball, nevermind have
a proper shot on target.
Still, they were keeping their eyes on him. Indeed, the constant pressure in Birmingham’s box worked for Manchester United as after a few missed opportunities, Mainoo managed to find Mather whose shot was deflected from the keeper, but it did find the back of the net in the end. Birmingham were quick to respond as they found an unorganized United defence and they finished from a close range. It seemed that things would finally win some sort of balance, but United had no time to settle for a draw as they kept pressuring high up again.
While doing so, Daniel Gore did well once again and this time Norkett made no mistake and United restored their lead.
As we are used in this academy level, United are rarely short of goals. After clearing the line that could have seen the game back in level terms, the young Reds were up running again. Mainoo once again with the ball who then found Norkett and he finished well from a narrow angle.
On the other hand, Hanbury managed to do well enough and tips the ball over as Birmingham try to close the gap. Aware of the fact that they would not give up, Garnacho took charge himself. First, he won a free-kick at the edge of the box, then perfectly executes it as the ball finds the top corner leaving the keeper with no clear options.
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By the end of the first half, Murray was brought down in what seemed a horrific tackle, but the player was up on his feet and could carry on with the game. This game was far from its final result as Birmingham began their quest to get back at this. Well, this seemed to be the case when Birmingham scored early on.
However, they were clueless about what was about to happen. United first tried through Garnacho to score with Sharpe doing well in the right, however, no end product to see things through. It was Sam Mather’s turn to assist Garnacho, but the goalkeeper
aware of the danger made a brilliant save. Both sides decided to make a few changes and for United came in Kambwala, a player, we all were so excited to see, whose game time last season was cut short from a horrific injury.
Kambwala’s impact was instant as one of the qualities of the defender is the brilliant read of the game and one pass forward towards Sharpe could have gotten United another goal if it were not for the goalkeeper. However, it was Garnacho’s moment as Sam Mather selfless pass towards him manages to get the young Spaniard his second goal of the game. It was just not enough for
him as his solo run past the midfield and in between defenders, gets him the deserved hat trick of the game.
A day full of surprises indeed, as Sharpe managed to score his first U18’s goal with Mather once again setting up a dangerous ball for his teammate. Approaching the end, one might have easily thought that seven goals were enough, well, for the U18’s – no. Norkett was the second player to complete his hat trick as he scored in the rebound of a tricky first header from Mather. Sam was
unlucky not to get another goal after this brilliant display with the U18’s.
The game ends with the final score of 2-8. An entertaining game with Gore, Norkett, Garnacho, Mather, Sharpe playing brilliantly, while Hanbury did well enough to keep the game on United’s terms. Back-to-back wins for Binnion’s side and we can finally say that the team has settled well after a difficult start.