Manchester United U18s were on their quest to make another brilliant appearance in the U18 Premier League North. The opponents were Wolves U18s who previously sat on 6th place. Just like United, Wolves U18 also have a few games in hand due to weather conditions throughout the season.
Coach Travis Binnion started this XI: Harrison (GK), Kingdon, Nolan, Jackson, Munro, Fitzgerald, Lacey, Ibragimov, Scanlon, Musa & Norkett (C). Subs: Kamason, Wooster, Williams, Berry.
An incredibly young U18s squad today, due to several involvements in the U21s game and a couple of injuries, which meant for five U16s members and one U15s starting. What we can note from the game in the starting minutes is Erik’s effect in United’s style of play. If you’re a regular follower, the U18s have always been driven by free flowing football. However, you can see things are now being thought carefully.
Manni Norkett has been one of the players that has mostly been affected by the use of a proper number nine at this level. His movement is brilliant, near the box and does not shy way from a brilliant shot. It was his involvement in the box that finally changed things for United in the game. He was brought down into the penalty area and the referee pointed at the spot for a penalty. It must be noted that Ibragimov has been United’s driving force upfront today. Manni Norkett makes no mistakes and sends the keeper the other way. United lead 1-0 away at Wolves.
Wolves were not planning to give up on the game obviously but were caught on a quick counter by Ibragimov who set up a great ball for Musa and the youngster made no mistakes and beat the keeper easily. The first half ended with Wolves looking to score but in vain as Harrison was in the right position. When I mentioned that the U18’s matches are usually fierce, the second half was a prime example of it. Just 30 seconds into the second half, Wolves found their first goal and would not stop looking for something out of this game. United were quick to respond with Shea Lacey who got a shot from outside of the box and sent the ball into the top corner. A brilliant goal, potentially goal of the season contender, without a doubt.
Shea Lacey with a beauty of a strike 🔥 pic.twitter.com/0xfzMGLYfS
— utdreport Academy (@utdreportAcad) January 28, 2023
Wolves were not giving up and it was McLeod who found Wolves’ second of the game after a cross from the left wing. United were getting a bit comfortable with the result and were not quite moving forward as before. You could see that the pressure from Wolves was only rising and 3 minutes before the end of regular time, they found an equaliser. In this moment, United received a wake up call but it was a bit too late. The two real chances they had in the second half came in the space of two minutes while in added time. The Wolves keeper denied Ethan Williams from the low top corner and then it was Norkett who blasted over a great opportunity to score.
In the end it seemed a fair result as this match was indeed a tale of two halves with a brilliant dynamic and considering the young side United U18s had on, a lot was learned at this point. Manchester United U18s currently sit third at the Premier League U18 in the North Division. The youngsters may hope a bit given the games in hand compared to the league leaders Manchester City. However, the coach must have taken notes from this game and how these players can, will and also need to behave when under pressure.