United 0 Sheff Utd 0: U18s draw blank against Blades
Posted by nickogs20 on March 21, 2009
|Manchester United U18s||0-0||Sheffield United U18s|
On a misty, murky morning at Carrington, these two sides served up a match in keeping with the conditions as United huffed and puffed but never really came near blowing the Sheffield United house down. With the Blades content to play on the break and increasingly happy to settle for a point as the match wore on, the Reds saw the vast majority of the possession but couldn’t break down the massed ranks in defence for the visitors. As it turned out, it was Sheffield United who came closest to troubling the scorers when Joe Smith’s shot a minute into the second half crashed against the crossbar.
Paul McGuinness made just two changes to the side that were somewhat unfortunate to lose to Wolves at Carrington last week. Scott Moffatt came in for Zeki Fryers to make a long overdue first start of the campaign, taking up his usual right-back role – Kenny Strickland moved inside to partner Scott Wootton. The other change saw Evandro Brandão drop to the bench and Cameron Stewart come into the team in an unfamiliar free role just behind lone striker Nicky Ajose.
United attempted to set the tone right from the off with a terrific passing move inside the first minute which ended with Ollie Norwood giving Billard an early test in the visitors’ goal. In many ways that did set the tone for the ninety minutes to follow – plenty of excellent ball retention and passing up until the final third but not quite the cutting edge required.
The two best chances for the Reds probably came inside the opening ten minutes, Ryan Tunnicliffe clipping the ball just over the angle of near post and crossbar after a neat one-two on the right flank with Moffatt, and then Nicky Ajose forcing a good low save from Billard after Norwood’s ball put him clean through – Ajose will have been disappointed with what was a fairly tame finish though.
The remainder of the first half passed without any real incident, consistently following the pattern detailed above with Gary Woods practically spending all his time running through a series of stretches and exercises in a bid to keep warm. United’s best efforts came from distance but they were regularly frustrated by some excellent blocks from a Blades rearguard superbly marshalled by Frenchman Maxime Chanot.
The second half started at the same frenetic pace as the first and it looked like we might finally see some goals, but again they didn’t quite materialise. Tunnicliffe’s run right from the kick-off took him to within 12 yards of the goal but Billard wasn’t overly tested by the finish, and his side were nearly made to pay for that profligacy when, from the resultant long kick, a defensive mix-up gave Smith the chance to strike at goal from 12 yards and absolutely rattle the bar, with Woods rooted to the spot.
The high tempo continued but that was really as near as we got to the deadlock being broken. McGuinness introduced Ravel Morrison and Reece Brown after an hour, both on their way back from injuries with Brown making his first appearance since November, but despite some typically impudent play from Morrison, the goal still wouldn’t come.
Things got a little niggly as the game wore on and frustration crept in, with Wootton, Norwood and Tunnicliffe all recieving yellow cards, along with one of their opponents. There were a few tasty tackles flying in and a few more players could have found their names being taken but referee Robinson did well to keep things under control.
The Reds did fashion two chances inside the last five minutes for Tunnicliffe and Morrison, the first after a miscued clearance and the second from a Norwood corner, but when the two youngest players on the park sent those opportunities harmlessly over the crossbar, it neatly summed up the game.
Neither manager will be particularly disheartened by the result, although Blades boss Ron Reid will certainly be the happier of the two coaches after witnessing his side put in a tremendously resolute defensive display. Paul McGuinness certainly couldn’t fault the effort of his players but the lack of an out and out centre-forward with a bit of presence against a team happy to sit deep and get everyone behind the ball was ultimately telling.
1. Gary Woods
2. Scott Moffatt (15. Reece Brown 58)
3. Joe Dudgeon
4. Kenny Strickland
5. Scott Wootton
6. Oliver Norwood
7. Chris Curran
8. Ryan Tunnicliffe
9. Cameron Stewart
10. Nicky Ajose
11. Daniel Galbraith (c) (14. Ravel Morrison 58)
Subs not used
12. Evandro Brandão
Booked: Wootton, Norwood, Tunnicliffe
Sheff Utd: Billard, Brown, Roe, Gee (Tahar 66), Chanot, Dempsey, Roberts (Lyn 88), James, Foster, Adams, Smith (Chappell 61).
Not used: Ho Lee, Kabia.