MSC Final: Late goals see reserves pick up a trophy of their own
Posted by nickogs20 on May 12, 2008
Goals in the last ten minutes from Danny Welbeck and Rodrigo Possebon only added to the feelgood factor around Old Trafford this evening, as United’s second string emulated the first-team’s achievement yesterday and picked up their own piece of silverware. The 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers saw the Reds win the Manchester Senior Cup for a record 27th time and finish their season in the perfect way.
Not that the victory was as straightforward as the scoreline might suggest. Bolton dominated the first half, causing United no end of problems with their physicality and noticeable size/strength advantage and not letting the Reds settle into their usual style of play. Only some heroic defending kept the scores level going into half-time, with Richard Eckersley – fresh from having been named Reserve Player of the Year last night – particularly impressive in a less familiar centre-back role, matching his usual total commitment with an extraordinarily competitive performance in the air against significantly taller, stronger opponents.
Whether it was down to tactical readjustments, strong words from the management team or a drop-off in Bolton’s intensity (or quite possibly all three), the second half was a much more even affair and indeed, after a scrappy start it was probably United who looked the better side. Eckersley and co. had to keep on their toes as Bolton were always a threat, but the midfield started to get on the ball more and more as the half wore on, Rodrigo Possebon displaying his full range of passing and seemingly never ceding possession. Danny Welbeck started to offer a significant threat of his own upfront for United, ably supported by Chris Eagles in what could quite possibly be his last game in a United shirt.
United chances came and went – Eagles went close with a freekick, David Gray headed narrowly wide and Welbeck forced a fine save from Bolton keeper Brocklehurst. The newly-crowned Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year wasn’t to be denied much longer though, and it was another player seemingly making his last appearance for the club who set it up. Michael Barnes had been subdued for much of the game, but on 79 minutes the winger worked space on the right and delivered the perfect cross for Welbeck to expertly volley home on the slide from 12 yards out.
That goal was just about deserved on the balance of play, but it would have been hard to begrudge Bolton an equaliser and with five minutes left they went as close as it’s possible to come without scoring. An almighty scramble in the United box gave Bolton not one but three opportunities to fire home and each time they were denied by heroic last-ditch defending, with Séan Evans eventually clearing off the line after brave blocks by Ron-Robert Zieler and James Chester. That close shave seemed to jolt United into a bid to kill the game off, and they were hugely aided by Bolton skipper Rob Sissons picking up a second yellow card with just a couple of minutes remaining. The Reds duly sealed the win in injury-time as Rodrigo Possebon found himself perfectly placed to take advantage of a lucky bounce of the ball and dispatch a classy left-foot volley past Brocklehurst from 15 yards – the Brazilian’s first goal for the reserves since his January arrival, and a decisive one.
Skipper Sam Hewson – a Bolton lad himself – duly lifted the Manchester Senior Cup, and told MUTV “That’s what we aim for all season, to win trophies, and it’s come true at the end. The first team set the standard. They win things, so it’s good for us to win trophies too to back that up”.
Gray – Chester – Eckersley – Cleverley
Barnes – Hewson – Possebon – S Evans
Subs: Amos, James, Drinkwater, Macheda, Fagan (all unused)
ScorersM: Welbeck 79, Possebon 90