It was a windy day in Merseyside as Manchester United U18s were hosted by Everton at Finch Farm.
Coach Travis Binnion decided for this starting XI today: Vitek; Jurado, Fredricson, Bennett, Murray; Oyedele, Mainoo; Ennis, Moorhouse, Mather; Norkett.
Meanwhile, the substitutes were Hanbury, Aljofree, Ogunneye, McAllister, Berry.
#MUFC U18s vs Everton
Vitek; Jurado, Fredricson, Bennett, Murray; Oyedele, Mainoo; Ennis, Moorhouse, Mather; Norkett. pic.twitter.com/Xz8ApMUXfa
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In the first 10 minutes, both sides were heavily involved in the game. While United were focused on dominating possession, Everton had already forced a save on Vitek.
Lawrence was already showing what he could do as he dribbled successfully past the defence, however, his shot was again stopped by the superb Vitek, who was kept busy throughout the evening. The wind would play a factor in this game and it was Everton playing into difficult conditions here, while United were unable to take advantage of it.
United started to show a glimpse of their usual game, with Jurado combining with Ennis from a corner kick, however, Ethan’s header was saved by the goalkeeper. Despite United starting poorly, it seemed like things were picking up pace and the youngsters were pressuring high up the pitch.
Jurado took a corner kick but it was massively affected by the wind. It fell into Ennis’ path but he was unable to score. The offside flag went up so his effort would have been in vain.
On a side note, it was quite interesting to see how United set up on both flanks.
But in what finally seemed to be a more balanced game, Everton made all their chances count as United failed to clear a corner before Lawrence, Everton’s best player of the half, smashed it in.
The U18s only had themselves to blame for how things were turning out, in the first half. United were left wandering in the final third far too many times, not having any clear ideas of what to do with their final ball.
Binnion surely had a lot to say to these these players at the break.
The second half started with United having more of the ball but just like in the first half the final ball was lacking. Everton eventually woke up and Vitek was back to being busy.
The wind and rain was not against United at this point. An Everton corner, which was not that dangerous at first, found Francis completely unmarked, and he made it count.
While our youngsters were trying to pick up the pieces from going two goals down, Everton hit again. This time it was through Sherif, who was left again unmarked in the six yard box, and at this point things got a lot worse.
Only a few minutes later, captain Bennett went down in a lot of pain, forcing a substitution for United as Ogunneye entered the pitch. This was United’s second substitution after Aljofree replaced Moorhouse just past the half hour mark. At this point of game, United’s only worry was to keep themselves together. Binnion then made another substitution with Mather making way for Berry.
In what we see so far it is a pattern with our academy sides. We struggle heavily against physical sides and, on the other hand, all credit to the Everton midfield who were exceptional today.
United will be regretting the fact that they let Everton roam free and unmarked so many times in their box, meanwhile not making anything count out of their chances. Time to work more on several things and work their way up from here. Lessons learned and we must work hard on improving some aspects of our game.