United Youth

Manchester United Reserves & Academy News

Dominant U18s far too good for Potters

Posted by nickogs20 on September 27, 2008

Stoke City Man Utd
Stoke City U18 0-4 Manchester United U18
Ajose 30, 32
Curran 35
Macheda 69


The Michelin Sports Ground in Stoke-on-Trent was the venue for a masterful display from Paul McGuinness’ U18 side this morning, the final scoreline of 4-0 barely reflecting the Reds’ superiority over an impressive ninety minutes. Three goals in a clinical five-minute period in the first-half from Nicky Ajose (2) and Chris Curran effectively killed off the game as a contest, Kiko Macheda adding a classy fourth after the break as United cruised to victory.

With his squad hit by injuries and international call-ups and last week’s draw with Derby exposing some flaws in a very raw defensive unit, McGuinness took the opportunity to use his full compliment of permitted over-age outfield players. Corry Evans replaced Reece Brown at centre-back, Jimmy Derbyshire took the place of Kenny Strickland on the right of the defence while Magnus Eikrem replaced triallist Lee Askham, whose absence may or may not be telling.

Elsewhere, the goalkeeper rotation continued with Conor Devlin coming in for his second game of the season, and a goal in each of the last two games earned Ajose a starting role upfront alongside Macheda. Chris Curran’s fine form so far this season was rewarded with a start on the right flank in place of Cameron Stewart, who dropped down to the bench.

The opening exchanges were fairly even, United looking perhaps the more dangerous in possession but the home side having the better chances, two free headers from corners being notably spurned. Devlin also narrowly avoided an embarrassing moment as a Moult shot caught him on his heels on the goalline and the rookie keeper only just managed to keep the ball out of his net as he juggled with it.

United’s back five settled down and the front six started to crank up the pressure. Matty James forced a stunning save out of Potters keeper Hamilton after fine work from Curran on the right, while Ajose served notice of the threat he posed, latching onto an unintended through-ball from Evans and firing just wide of the far post. James and Macheda failed to convert further openings as the Reds built up a head of steam that suggested a goal was coming. As it turned out, goals (in the plural) were coming, and in quick succession.

Nicky Ajose - quickfire double takes his season tally to four

Nicky Ajose - quickfire double takes his season tally to four

First, just as the clock reached the half-hour mark, Oliver Norwood picked up the ball, drove through midfield and bisected the Stoke back-four with the perfect pass for Ajose to sprint onto. The 16 year-old needed no further invitation and coolly lifted the ball over the diving Hamilton to give United a deserved lead. Time to consolidate? Not this team, not today. Just two minutes later the hitherto quiet Macheda dummied a pass from Norwood, allowing it to run to Ajose who showed tremendous strength to hold off his marker and let the ball run across his body, setting up a shooting opportunity from 20 yards which he expertly took, curling the ball unstoppably into the top right-hand corner.

The Reds weren’t done. The clock had barely ticked on much further before Hamilton was picking the ball out of his net once again. Curran recieved the ball in acres of space on the right flank, from where most would have predicted an attempt to beat the full-back on the outside before whipping in a cross. The Ulsterman shunned that conventional wisdom, shifting inside onto his left foot and drifting past one, two, three defenders before rifling home from 18 yards with his weaker left peg. A goal reminiscent of Andrei Kanchelskis’ goal in the 1994 FA Cup Semi-Final Replay against Oldham Athletic at Maine Road, if anyone else is sad enough to recall that strike.

To all intents and purposes the game was over, three points in the bag for the visitors. McGuinness’ primary task at half-time would be to get over to his charges the need to avoid complacency, a task that was greatly assisted in the last few seconds of the first period by Devlin’s crossbar being rattled. Stoke skipper Nathaniel Wedderburn’s shot from range was cleverley re-directed by their top scorer Warwick Alexander, wrong-footing the Reds’ Northern Irish stopper but cannoning to safety off the woodwork.

It’s fair to say McGuinness successfully got the message across – a confident United eleven cruised through the second half, never looking likely to cede their position of superiority and giving the impression that they could increase the 3-0 lead any time they felt like it. Stoke worked hard but their spirit had been well and truly sapped by United’s ruthless first-half display. The United boss took the chance to rest James, Norwood and Oliver Gill, who had played every minute in the Academy League up until that point – Cameron Stewart, Reece Brown and Kenny Strickland their replacements.

What few moments of goalmouth activity there were in the second period were fashioned by those in the white shirts (United in their away attire, for anyone confused or unaware of Stoke’s kit colours), the most notable being the fourth goal with twenty minutes remaining that pushed the scoreline up to something more fairly reflecting the overall balance of play. Corry Evans, by now restored to his usual midfield role, played Macheda in down the right channel. The Italian was in behind the defence but the angle meant he still had work to do – no problem for a goalscorer of his quality. A classy finish was duly dispatched into the far corner.

What would have capped the game off nicely would have been a hattrick goal for the in-form Ajose. It didn’t come, but it wasn’t for want of trying in the last ten minutes, which saw the Bury-born striker first round the keeper only to get the ball stuck under his feet, and then be denied by a brilliant block from Stoke defender Connor. Not to be this time, but the youngster’s impressive performance will have surely earned him plenty more opportunities to take home the match-ball (if that even happens at academy level) over the course of the season.

Oliver Norwood and Corry Evans also stood out in what was a fine team performance. Evans added some much-needed ‘experience’ and leadership to what has been a very raw back four, while Norwood was at the hub of all United’s best work going forward whilst still managing to carry out the defensive duties expected of him in an unusual left-sided role. This team continues to impress, 3 wins, two draws, 13 goals scored and just two goals conceded a hugely encouraging return from the first five games, with Crewe Alexandra next up at Carrington a week today.

1. Conor Devlin
2. Jimmy Derbyshire
3. Oliver Gill (12. Kenny Strickland 76)
4. Corry Evans
5. Scott Wootton
6. Matty James (c) (15. Reece Brown 61)
7. Chris Curran
8. Magnus Eikrem
9. Federico Macheda
10. Nicky Ajose
11. Oliver Norwood (14. Cameron Stewart 61)

Subs not used
13. Gary Woods


10 Responses to “Dominant U18s far too good for Potters”

  1. Mr E said

    Still need height and pace

  2. Martini said

    Mr E your off your head – They win 0.4 away from home and all you can comment about is height and pace…….

  3. nickogs20 said

    There’s no convincing some people. We have tonnes of height and plenty of pace, and more importantly we have good footballers. Other clubs look to bring through athletes and coach a level of technique into them. Manchester United, certainly while Sir Alex Ferguson or someone of the same mind is in charge, will always prioritise footballing ability.

    If Mr E was in charge of youth development at United Paul Scholes would never have made it…

  4. Dr.Twinny said

    Wow….we must have really played Stoke off the park today. I am expecting a great match report later on. I don’t know whats’s up this year,but I just feel a renewed excitement and confidence in the reserves and youth team for this season.

  5. Mattweeden said

    Has that first poster watched any of these players play? They are a great set of lads and at this level it’s all about bettering their ability

  6. Ross Green said

    How does Curran play?

  7. zeddy said

    what a performance! Anyway, just wondering where I can get news from the lower age group performance. Dying to follow the next batch of the fergie’s fledgings group of 92…

  8. nickogs20 said

    You can’t really, the club don’t publish the results or usually allow anyone who isn’t related to a player to watch home U16 games.

  9. norries said

    This is directed at the most knowlegable man on everything UTD. Mr Nickogs20

    i’m from Namibia, Africa – i dont know the whole academy football setup in england, and so i want to find out the following from you;

    1. how many over age players are allowed in the under 18s
    2. can a first teamer be selected as well say e.g v/d Sar
    3. how does the Utd setup look like i.e, the other youth teams, is P, Mcguinnes also incharge of them?

    Lastly, About womens football, is there a womens team closely linked with Man Utd – we need to knock those Aresnal Ladies of thier perch as well.

  10. nickogs20 said

    1 – You’re allowed three over-age outfield players and an over-age goalkeeper, but they must all be under-19s.
    2 – I guess I’ve already answered that…
    3 – There’s the U16 side and then various other age-group sides down through to pretty young kids. Not totally sure what the youngest age group is. McGuinness only manages the U18s.

    And we have no womens team, there was one for a while but it was stopped for various reasons.

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