Manchester United u18s hosted Stoke City on Saturday morning in their third encounter of the season which saw Stoke run out winners on both of the previous occasions, including in the FA Youth Cup.
Eager to take revenge, United started hot, with Ethan Williams latching onto a breaking ball in midfield to run 40 yards to the edge of the box. But the winger’s shot towards the far post but curled away from the goal.
Still within the 7th minute, James Nolan played a quick free kick down the left channel to Ethan Wheatley, who expertly chopped inside to open space in the box and looked to place it into the bottom right corner, only to be denied by a fantastic save .
Wheatley then turned provider with a diagonal ball to Shea Lacey on the right wing. Lacey’s deflected delivery caused some panic in the Stoke box as it looped to the back post, but was ultimately seen out for a corner.
Later in the half, Adam Berry spun in midfield before picking out Lacey with a lofted pass to the right for the small winger to rifle a wide shot that was deflected into the side netting.
The sides went into the break level at 0-0, with United controlling the first 45 minutes but only creating half chances.
The second half saw Sam Murray come in at the break for Habeen Ogunneye which allowed Nolan to switch to his more familiar right back role.
Five minutes into the second half, Lacey was tripped up 25 yards out and confidently grabbed the ball from Williams to take the resulting free kick. A low effort curled around the wall, it was barely tipped around by Tommy Simkin’s finger tips.
Elyh Harrison was then forced into his first big save of the match to deny a well taken half volley from 20 yards out by Adam Watson.
In the 61st minute, Williams cut inside and burst through a pack of three Stoke defenders before unleashing from the edge of the box but there wasn’t enough behind it to really trouble the keeper.
A big chance came on the counter for Stoke’s Justin Iwobi, given an opening at the front post by Louis Jackson and Harrison, but the Stoke striker sliced his effort and couldn’t take advantage of the poor positioning from United.
Shortly after coming off the bench, United’s new signing Gabriele Biancheri won the breaking ball after Berry’s blocked shot and got his effort off quickly towards the top right corner but Simkin was there again to deny and push around the post for a corner.
In the 80th minute, James Scanlon was played into the box before going down easy after taking his touch and the referee wasn’t having any of it as he quickly blew up and booked the substitute for simulation.
Into injury time, Lacey cut onto his left and curled a cross into Biancheri making a run across the Stoke defenders but he couldn’t connect with the ball properly, seeing it roll out for a goal kick as a result.
Deep into the 9th minute of injury time, Williams curled in a corner with his weaker left foot that punched clear by the keeper right to Berry to expertly volley at the edge of the box. It looked destined to win the match, but Simkin capped off a fine display with yet another top save to keep it level at the final whistle.
Despite being on top for most of the match, United were ultimately kept to only half chances by Stoke’s resolute and physical defending. The draw keeps United in third place in the league, three points ahead of today’s opponents.
United: Harrison, Ogunneye (Murray 46, Biancheri 67), Kingdon, Jackson, Nolan, Fitzgerald, Berry, Lacey, Musa, Williams, Wheatley (Scanlon 77)
Unused subs: Murdock, Munro
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