United 1 Bolton 0: More silverware for Solskjaer thanks to late Macheda winner
Posted by nickogs20 on August 17, 2009
August 17th 2009, 7.45pm
County Ground, Leyland
|Manchester United Reserves||1-0||Bolton Wanderers Reserves|
United’s reserves have retained the Lancashire Senior Cup after Kiko Macheda’s winner four minutes from time settled a tense, closely-contested final at the County Ground in Leyland this evening.
With the game seemingly destined for penalties, the Reds’ Italian striker soared to meet Magnus Eikrem’s right-wing freekick and crash a great header against the crossbar before reacting quickest to nod home the rebound in predatory fashion, clinching an 11th LSC triumph in the club’s history.
When Bolton announced their side early in the day, it was apparent that the Ole Solskjaer’s side would be in for a real test. United may have beaten the Trotters in the last two MSC finals, but Wanderers’ reserve boss Alan Cork was seemingly determined to make amends this time, fielding a side packed with experience. Indeed, all 11 Bolton starters had played Premier League football, and they boasted a combined total of over 1500 senior league games and 133 international caps.
United on the other hand fielded a typically youthful eleven, albeit one bolstered by the likes of Macheda, Danny Welbeck, Zoran Tošić and Craig Cathcart, for whom reserve football is something of a step down these days. Ben Amos made a welcome return in goal after recovering from a broken finger, while skipper James Chester started in an unfamiliar right-back role. Tom Cleverley was amongst the absentees, having finalised his loan move to Watford earlier in the day.
The first half was high on effort and energy but distinctly lacking in clearcut chances. United’s best opening in the first 45 fell to Welbeck early on, the England U21 striker tussling with Danny Shittu outside the box before surging into the box and forcing Ali Al-Habsi into a smart low save. Otherwise the more obvious sights of goal fell to the team in white, and Amos needed to be alert to foil Mark Davies and Mustapha Riga.
Bolton’s new signing Chung-yong Lee, an international team-mate of Ji-sung Park with South Korea, looked dangerous in a right-wing role while Tošić was a constant threat to Nicky Hunt down United’s left flank, but this was a first half ultimately dominated by the two defences, Cathcart in particular looking a class act and seeming to absolutely cruise through the game.
The game continued in much the same vein after the break, although Davies did spurn perhaps the most straightforward chance his team would create all night a couple of minutes after the restart. The game already seemed to be almost inexorably heading towards a spotkick lottery even with half an hour to go, and Solskjaer shook things up just after the hour mark with a triple substitution, hoping to find something of a spark. David Gray and Sam Hewson replaced Cathcart (perhaps in line for first-team involvement on Wednesday) and the tiring Welbeck, while Joshua King came on for Tošić, who had picked up an ankle knock in a clash with Shittu.
The fresh legs allowed United to continue to try and contend with Bolton’s more direct style of play and to try and impose their own quick passing game on proceedings, but chances were still at a premium, King coming closest to troubling Al-Habsi but largely being forced to live off scraps. At the other end, Corry Evans snuffed out the Bolton threat on a couple of occasions, although the Ulsterman was perhaps fortunate to get away with blocking Chris Basham’s point-blank header with an outstretched hand.
Penalties looked a near-certainty as the game moved into the last five minutes, but it should have been obvious that the hitherto quiet Macheda couldn’t go ninety minutes without having some sort of impact – not least because the 17 year-old had boasted six goals in seven games against the Trotters in his two years in Manchester.
Bolton in many ways were architects of their own downfall. Riga’s terrible lunge at Cameron Stewart just outside the right-hand corner of the penalty area left the United winger in some pain and should have brought a red card from referee Metcalfe. Only a yellow was forthcoming, but the Reds took justice into their own hands with the ensuing freekick. Magnus Eikrem’s delivery was perfect and Macheda timed his leap well to get above Shittu and power his header goalwards. The ball thudded against the bar, but the Italian reacted instantly to send a second header into the vacant far corner of the goal and reeled away in celebration at almost certainly having clinched victory and yet another cup success for the reserves.
Star Man: Craig Cathcart – Classy display showed clearly that the Belfast youngster is far, far too good for this level now.
1. Ben Amos
2. James Chester (c)
3. Joe Dudgeon
4. Matt James
5. Craig Cathcart (12. David Gray 62)
6. Corry Evans
7. Cameron Stewart
8. Magnus Eikrem
9. Federico Macheda
10. Danny Welbeck (15. Sam Hewson 62)
11. Zoran Tošić (16. Joshua King 63)
Subs not used
13. Ron-Robert Zieler
14. Oliver Norwood
Ref: Lee Metcalfe (Preston)