Manchester United finally played their Premier League U18 match of the year. Well, weather conditions did not seem that bad, so no frozen or waterlogged pitches…
Coach Travis Binnion started with this XI: Wooster (GK), Aljofree, Bennett, Murray, Kambwala, Jurado, Mainoo, Gore, Garnacho, Hugill, Ennis. Meanwhile on the bench were Hanbury, Pye, Mather, Fredricson and Norkett.
Bennett captained the side while earlier this week the youngster signed his first professional contract for Manchester United. This will serve as a nice preparation for the FA Youth Cup game against the Toffees and getting to know what can be done more for the team.
As the game started, Everton were dominant on the ball while United struggled with every second ball. Slowly but confidently, United were trying not iron out the mistakes they made at Finch Farm last time on their most recent trip. The level of confidence was obvious and was helped by a Jurado ball evading past everyone and Aljofree was found in the right spot to seize the opportunity and score his first goal for the club at this level.
From that point on, Everton were trying to press higher up the pitch and make every opportunity count, while United were sitting a bit deep and trying to hit on the counter attack. They almost did, but Ennis’ effort flew over the bar. It was another warning for Everton.
Everton almost levelled things up but Aljofree did well to make a block.
On the other hand, it was once again Ennis getting the opportunity to double United’s lead but he does the most difficult thing in the moment and shoots it wide. If you have been following carefully our games against Everton, they tend to play with a lot of physicality. This was the second time Bennett went down for treatment after a number of heavy challenges on him. Then it was time for another goal as Garnacho made a run half way line and Hugill’s run was used as an opportunity to open up space.
Garnacho’s shot from the edge of the box ended up in the back of the net so beautifully.
Then Hugill moved to defensive duty with a basic ball movement and a good interception before shooting, but, for some reason, the ball finds the side net. United’s wings were moving flawlessly with Murray leading the attack with Garnacho and Hugill passing the ball well. Hugill has been in a brilliant form so far and he has been selfless as he initiates another United attack this time setting up Ennis who sends it wide. Everton manage to get one back through Lawrence while United then try to get their two goal lead back. First, United have a chance with Ennis and then it is Aljofree via a corner. It is then Hugill once again with two back to back chances and is unfortunate that he was yet to score.
At the beginning of the second half, it is Garnacho who forces a save on Nash just before Everton get their equaliser as Kambwala is easily beaten and the ball is fired in the far corner. A bit disappointing after playing so well in the first half for United, but Everton were knocking on the door trying to hurt us. Somehow United manage to restore their lead with Wooster inviting the keeper on a mistake with Hugill getting a shot from the halfway line and beating the keeper’s efforts to manage a save somehow, but in vain.
Ever since restoring the lead, United moved in a more defensive mode, however Wooster was always there. The referee was paying more attention to the Everton’s adventurous kicks as once again they target a United defender. Finally time had come to restore the two goal lead and the man of the match once again scores. A Garnacho ball falls into the hands of the keeper who drops but Hugill is there to pick it and score. The game was still far from over as Everton tried to score and get something out of it.
Once again, Everton are off to their old antics and the referee seems unbothered of what is happening at the moment. The Everton efforts are helpless, meanwhile on the other hand Hugill has the clear opportunity to score his third of the game. What followed was United having the occasional chances while Everton were trying to get something back through corners. If there were more minutes, probably we would have gotten another, no doubt.
In the end, a well deserved victory for Manchester United and a bit of revenge from what happened last time we played Everton. Well it is not all over for the two sides facing one another as we face them again in the FA Youth Cup, where we should be careful we make all the right moves and make it through.