United 4 Bolton 1: Impressive U18s cruise to victory
Posted by nickogs20 on November 15, 2008
|Manchester United U18s||4-1||Bolton Wanderers U18s|
|Macheda 8||–||Mooy 57|
|James 35, 56||–||–|
United’s U18s brushed aside near-neighbours Bolton Wanderers in a one-sided contest at Carrington this morning to pick up a first home win in the Academy League since the end of August. The destination of all three points was never in doubt from the moment Federico Macheda struck a terrific opening goal inside the first ten minutes, and further goals from skipper Matty James, Ra’vel Morrison and Bolton’s unfortunate Chris Stokes gave the Reds a resounding victory.
After resting Kenny Strickland last week, Paul McGuinness took the opportunity to give Scott Wootton a week off and to try another combination at the heart of the defence, with Strickland returning alongside Oliver Gill, Joe Dudgeon continuing in the left-back role Gill had gamely occupied early in the season. Conor Devlin replaced Gary Woods in goal and there was another start for Robbie Brady on the left wing. After his recent impressive introduction to the U18 setup, Ra’vel Morrison had to be content with a place on the bench, Cameron Stewart returning to the starting lineup on the right flank.
United started as they meant to go on, applying pressure to the visitors right from the off and gaining the upper hand immediately, Davide Petrucci going close with a well-struck volley early on. Only eight minutes had passed when the Reds backed that up with an opening goal, and what a strike it was. Petrucci pressured Bolton’s Mooy into giving the ball away 30 yards or so from his own goal, but as the ball broke to Macheda there didn’t seem to be any immediate danger. The Italian striker had other ideas, shifting the ball into space and onto his left foot before unleashing a terrific strike that keeper Brocklehurst just got a fingertip to but couldn’t keep out.
Such was United’s early dominance that a rout looked on the cards, although Wanderers’ McGeechan directing a free header over the crossbar will have ensured the Reds didn’t get complacent. Bolton dug in and didn’t capitulate as it looked like they may, but all the genuine chances in the rest of the half were created by the Reds. Stewart and Macheda both forced fine saves and Gill headed just wide from a corner before United’s pressure told and a second goal arrived. Petrucci again played a key role, breaking into the box on the right hand side and tormenting his marker with some Ronaldo-esque trickery before working just enough space to pick out the late-arriving Matty James with a perfect cross. The skipper was left with the simple task of heading home (highlights of the first two goals here).
Petrucci went close with another volley in first-half injury time and McGuinness will have been very pleased with his side’s performance as they took a 2-0 lead into the break. The message for the second half will surely have been a simple ‘more of the same’, and the Reds duly obliged. After continuing to control the game after the restart, the game was more or less put to bed ten minutes into the second half with a third United goal, James’ driving right flank run and dangerous near post cross being headed past his own keeper by the unfortunate Stokes.
I say ‘more or less put to bed’ as Bolton duly went up the other end and gave themselves a possible lifeline just a minute later. A high ball into the area wasn’t cleared very far by Strickland and when Bolton returned the ball into the box, Mooy was lurking at the far post to head into the roof of the net. That lifeline was very nearly strengthened immediately from the restart as well, Mooy firing inches wide from distance with Devlin looking well beaten.
The Reds settled things down and proceeded to take the sting out of the game, keeping possession effectively and frustrating their opponents. McGuinness then took the opportunity to introduce Morrison from the bench in place of Stewart and the England schoolboy international had only been on the pitch seven minutes when he well and truly left his mark on the game. James found the young winger with a perfect through ball and, displaying staggering confidence for one so young, Morrison casually dinked the ball over the onrushing Brocklehurst – his second goal in a week and one that well and truly killed Bolton off.
Nicky Ajose got a late run-out in place of Brady and Macheda went close to adding to his season tally of seven late on, firing just wide after being played in by another superb Petrucci pass. 4-1 it finished, every bit as convincing as that makes it seem and Paul McGuinness will be very pleased with his side’s form heading into the Youth Cup clash with Chelsea at the end of the month. Joe Dudgeon looks back to his best at left-back and the defence is a significantly improved unit for that, while the midfield trio of James, Norwood and Petrucci are really starting the click, the latter probably having his best game in a United shirt this morning. Macheda continues to look a class apart at this level and the seamless way Morrison and Tunnicliffe have been integrated into the side this season is hugely encouraging.
There’s just one more academy league game before that Youth Cup tie, Blackburn away next weekend (live on MUTV) the last chance for the U18s to stake their claims for places in the side for the big match at Old Trafford. With another round of youth internationals coming up, it’s likely that a number of scholars will also get the chance to step up to reserve level over the next couple of weeks, with games against Hull and Rosenborg (behind closed doors) in the next week or so.
1. Conor Devlin
2. Reece Brown (16. Ryan Tunnicliffe 21)
3. Joe Dudgeon
4. Kenny Strickland
5. Oliver Gill
6. Matty James (c)
7. Cameron Stewart (17. Ra’vel Morrison 69)
8. Oliver Norwood
9. Federico Macheda
10. Davide Petrucci
11. Robbie Brady (14. Nick Ajose 80)
Subs not used
12. Scott Wootton
15. Evandro Brandão
NB: United’s third goal, originally thought to be an own goal, was credited to Matt James by the official club statistician.