Everton 0 United 1: Clean sheet for the returning VDS as Kiko sends Reds clear at the top
Posted by nickogs20 on October 7, 2009
October 6th 2009, 7pm
Halton Stadium, Widnes
|Everton Reserves||0-1||Manchester United Reserves|
Much of the focus at Widnes’ rain-lashed Halton Stadium this evening was on the return of Edwin van der Sar from injury, but on a night when neither keeper really had to break sweat, it was Kiko Macheda who stole the headlines and plaudits with a second-half winner that sent United’s Reserves three points clear at the top of the Premier Reserve League North.
After a first half that saw neither side manage to register a shot on target, Macheda made the crucial breakthrough ten minutes after the interval after Everton’s well-marshalled defence was finally prised open by the excellent Magnus Eikrem. With the returning van der Sar largely a spectator, that solitary strike was enough to hand the Reds a fourth win out of five games and an outright lead at the top of the table.
After last week’s terrific team display against Sunderland there were never going to be mass changes to the lineup, and Solskjaer made just the three changes. Two of those were enforced, with Ritchie de Laet and Zoran Tošić headed off on international duty – replacements came in the form of Matt James, back from England’s desperate U20 World Cup campaign, and Robbie Brady, with skipper Corry Evans moving back to centre-half to accomodate the former.
The other change was of course in goal, with van der Sar getting his first outing since breaking his hand in the Audi Cup at the end of July. Amusingly, the last time the veteran Dutch keeper made a reserve appearance, Will Keane – one of United’s subs – wasn’t even born! Joining Keane on the bench was Febian Brandy, who like James was once again available after England duty. Everton meanwhile included the experienced Carlo Nash in goal, regular first-teamer Dan Gosling and promising Jose Baxter, who had been the subject of news stories all day relating to his arrest in connection with drugs-related offences. Three of the Toffees’ starting XI also featured against United’s U18s at the weekend.
As with the meeting of these two sides at academy level on Saturday, the conditions had a big part to play, although in this instance it was near-torrential rain that affected proceedings. As a result, the first-half wasn’t much of a spectacle, with van der Sar and Nash having little to do other than take goal-kicks and pluck the occasional cross out of the air. The few half-chances that were created were fashioned by those in red shirts, Thursday’s two-goal hero Joshua King blazing over from a tricky angle before linking with the other two-goal hero from last week, Magnus Eikrem, to set up James for a sidefoot effort from the edge of the area that had Nash scrambling but went narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
The second half could really only get better and, thankfully, it did, helped in no small part by conditions significantly improving. United immediately looked more dangerous after the break, with Eikrem and Ollie Norwood threatening from distance and Macheda calling Nash into action for the first time with what was ultimately a tame header.
The young Italian was far more clinical minutes later however as a flowing Reds move finally saw the deadlock broken. Joe Dudgeon burst forward from his left-back station and played a one-two with Macheda before laying the ball off to Eikrem about 30 yards from goal. The Norwegian playmaker drifted across the edge of the box before threading an exquisitely disguised pass between two Everton defenders into the path of Macheda, who had ghosted into the box from the left flank. As is generally the case when Kiko is presented with a clear sight of goal from 12 yards out, the 18 year-old coolly found the net.
In a game of so few chances, the opening goal was always going to be a vital one. While United continued to probe for further opportunities and Everton broke out of their defensive mindset in an attempt to find an equaliser, neither side really looked like altering the scoreline as the last half-hour played out. The Reds went closest through Macheda again while van der Sar was finally called into action to deal with a couple of testing low crosses, but no-one was particularly surprised when the game ended with just the one entry on the scoresheet, the most interesting action of the closing stages coming when Solskjaer introduced the 16 year-old Keane from the bench for a reserve debut.
A hard-earned three points then, three points that move United away from Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the table, temporarily at least. The Reds will return to Premier Reserve League action in just over a fortnight when Blackburn visit Moss Lane, but in the meantime attentions will turn to next week’s Manchester Senior Cup clash with Oldham and an intriguing friendly with Scottish Second Division outfit Clyde.
Star Man: Federico Macheda – United’s young Roman marksman has looked somewhat out-of-sorts in recent weeks but was back to something approaching his best form here, working hard and linking well from an unfamiliar left-sided role and bagging the all-important winning goal in typically clinical fashion.
1. Edwin van der Sar
2. Fábio da Silva
3. Joe Dudgeon
4. Corry Evans (c)
5. Oliver Gill
6. Matt James
7. Oliver Norwood (14. Febian Brandy 62)
8. Federico Macheda
9. Joshua King (15. Will Keane 89)
10. Magnus Eikrem (12. Scott Wootton 90)
11. Robbie Brady
Subs not used
13. Ben Amos
Ref: D S Bond
Everton: Nash, Coleman (Thompson 82), Bidwell, Peterlin, Nsiala, McCarten, Forshaw, Akpan, Agard, Gosling, Baxter (McAleny 61).
Unused: Davies, Kinsella, Arnoux.