U18’s get season underway with creditable point
Posted by nickogs20 on August 23, 2008
|West Ham U18||0-0||Man Utd U18|
United’s Academy side started the new Premier Academy League season with one of those footballing rarities – an entertaining goalless draw. Reds’ boss Paul McGuinness won’t be displeased with a point from what always promised to be a tough game away at West Ham, and while there’ll perhaps be a nagging feeling that his side could have taken all three points, there’ll also be recognition that without a fine performance in goal from Gary Woods, they could have been returning to Manchester empty-handed.
United’s lack of depth at full-back was shown up somewhat by the team selection, with the back four of Kenny Strickland, Reece Brown, Scott Wootton and Oliver Gill all being centre-halves by nature. Cameron Stewart got the nod on the left wing, lining up alongside the promising-looking triumvarate of skipper Matty James, Davide Petrucci and Oliver Norwood in midfield, whilst yesterday’s birthday boy Federico Macheda led the line alongside Evandro Brandão.
With West Ham’s Little Heath training ground bathed in sunshine, the game was a scrappy affair for the first twenty minutes, the high tempo not being conducive to either side’s natural passing style and leading to a distinct lack of goalmouth action. Neither goalkeeper was tested until Woods was called upon to make straightforward saves from Anthony Edgar and Ahmed Abdulla midway through the half, as the home side were the first to settle and find their rhythm. United’s goal threat was limited to long-range strikes from Petrucci and Stewart, although the latter did also have a reasonable-looking penalty shout waved away just before the interval.
The second half saw the momentum swing United’s way, with James and Norwood taking control of midfield (albeit occasionally overstepping the mark physically, with both picking up yellow cards for rash tackles). Brandão was presented with the game’s best chance after James seized upon an error by Eyjolfsson, but the Portuguese was foiled by a superb save from Irons’ keeper Adam Steele, who then produced another fine stop to deny Macheda.
West Ham slowly but surely weathered that storm and came back into the game themselves, with both sides ringing the changes in a bid to find a moment of inspiration to break the deadlock. Fresh legs in the form of Nicky Ajose, Robbie Brady and Ryan Tunnicliffe were all introduced by McGuinness as the second half wore on but both sides began to wilt somewhat in the balmy conditions, genuine chances few and far between as the draw began to take on an air of inevitability. Abdulla and Josh Payne briefly threatened to make a mockery of that and snatch all three points late on for Tony Carr’s home side but were unable to beat the imposing Woods, and the game duly petered out to a 0-0 stalemate.
1. Gary Woods
2. Kenny Strickland
3. Oliver Gill
4. Reece Brown
5. Scott Wootton
6. Matty James (c)
7. Oliver Norwood
8. Davide Petrucci (15. Robbie Brady 64)
9. Evandro Brandão (14. Nicky Ajose 53)
10. Federico Macheda
11. Cameron Stewart (16. Ryan Tunnicliffe 80)
Subs not used
12. Chris Curran
13. Conor Devlin
Booked: Oliver Gill, Matty James, Oliver Norwood
The U18’s are next in action a week today, Saturday August 30th, as they welcome Norwich City to Carrington for the first home game of the new campaign.