Antwerp 0 United 0: Reds end pre-season campaign with stalemate
Posted by nickogs20 on August 11, 2009
August 10th 2009, 7.30pm
Bosuilstadion, Antwerp (Belgium)
|Royal Antwerp||0-0||Manchester United XI|
United’s second string finished off their tour of Benelux with a dour 0-0 draw against Belgian EXQI League side Royal Antwerp at Bosuil last night. Coming at the end of a lengthy and arduous pre-season programme, it was perhaps inevitable that the Reds wouldn’t be able to produce their best form, and so it proved in a game dominated by the defences and only really illuminated by an effort against the bar by both teams.
The locals had been hoping to see old boy Ritchie de Laet in action, but after his recent success with the United first team, he was called up into the Belgian U-21 squad and did not feature. Similarly, Corry Evans and Oliver Norwood, who were involved in the Overdam Tournament on Saturday, were called up by Northern Ireland. With Febian Brandy still nursing a knock from earlier in the tour, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer flew out new recruits in the shape of Josh King and Ryan Tunnicliffe.
There were warm welcomes for both Warren Joyce and Danny Simpson, with Joyce in particular being feted by the locals after his spell in charge of the Great Old earlier this decade.
The game kicked off with United playing a familiar 4-5-1 formation with Gill and Chester in central defence/ Stewart and Brady supported lone striker Josh King, while a midfield three of James, Eikrem and Hewson were hoping to get an early grip on the game.
It turned out to be a dour contest with little in the way of goal action. The closest either side came to a goal in the first half was on 35 minutes when left fullback Joe Dudgeon sliced a corner onto his own crossbar and the Antwerp No. 8 proceeded to miss a free header from six yards out with the goal at his mercy…..heading over the bar.
Half-time: Royal Antwerp 0 Manchester United 0
The Reds looked slightly jaded in the first period following their exertions over the last week. To be fair, it was a very warm evening and the pitch was incredibly dry and very hard. Solskjaer made one change at the break, Tunnicliffe replacing Brady.
The second half was much the same with little goalmouth action. We had to wait until 55 minutes into the match before United had their one and only chance, a Danny Simpson strike from the edge of the area which hit the crossbar. The game then was played from midfield with neither team looking likely to make a breakthrough. Antwerp made one final push and perhaps should have done better with a free header late in the game. With a few minutes to go, Brown replaced Stewart who looked knackered.
A 0-0 draw was probably a fair result with both teams trying to win the dogfight in midfield and both defences were really on top. Tom Heaton was a virtual spectator for the entire game and Josh King was probably the Man of the Match with a great display of how to lead the line. He was busy, strong and direct all evening showing glimpses of his blistering pace, causing the Antwerp defence all sorts of problems.
In front of a lively crowd of around 5000 it was funny to hear the Antwerp fans singing English songs, even some from the United songbook. The best of the evening however, was when they sang ‘Warren Joyce, take us up, to the place we belong. first division, then into Europe, take us up, Warren Joyce’ to the tune of Country Roads!
The Reds will be pleased with the results and performances during the tour, remaining unbeaten throughout and proving to be a good pre-season workout before the serious business gets underway next week with the Lancashire Senior Cup Final against Bolton Wanderers at the County Ground in Leyland.
1. Tom Heaton
2. Danny Simpson
3. Joe Dudgeon
4. Matt James
5. Oliver Gill
6. James Chester (c)
7. Cameron Stewart (12. Reece Brown 87)
8. Sam Hewson
9. Joshua King
10. Magnus Eikrem
11. Robbie Brady (15. Ryan Tunnicliffe 46)
Subs not used
13. Ron-Robert Zieler
14. Scott Wootton
16. Nicky Ajose
Thanks again to Mr MUJAC for the match report.