Oldham 0 United 3: Obertan makes Reds debut in MSC stroll
Posted by nickogs20 on October 13, 2009
October 12th 2009, 7pm
Ewen Fields, Hyde
|Oldham Athletic Reserves||0-3||Manchester United Reserves|
It would be fair to say United’s defence of the Manchester Senior Cup hasn’t been unduly challenging so far. Resounding 5-0 victors in the opening round-robin match against Bury, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side made it two from two at Hyde United’s Ewen Fields ground tonight with a comfortable 3-0 win over a game but ultimately outclassed Oldham Athletic.
The result was never in doubt once the Reds netted twice in as many minutes midway through the first half through Febian Brandy and Sam Hewson, and substitute Joshua King added some gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time at the end of the game with a fine goal on the counter attack. Further plus points for those of a United persuasion came in the form of the comebacks from injury of Rafael da Silva and summer signing Gabriel Obertan, who made his first appearance in the red shirt.
The inclusion of the 20 year-old French forward was the big team news, with many speculating that this was a test run ahead of a possible first team debut at Barnsley in the Carling Cup later in the month. Signed from Bordeaux in July, Obertan arrived at the club nursing a spinal injury and has endured a frustrating start to his United career, but now looks ready to get his time in English football underway in earnest. Rafael meanwhile was making his first appearance of the campaign after picking up a shoulder injury at the start of pre-season – he lined up in his usual right-back slot, opposite his twin Fábio.
Elsewhere, Solskjaer shook things up a bit with several further changes. Scott Wootton and Oliver Gill made up an inexperienced centre-back pairing, while the adoption of a 451/433 system meant the use of three central midfielders, Hewson, Matt James and Ollie Norwood getting the nod. Robbie Brady came in on the left-wing with Obertan occupying the other flank, both wingers being expected to get up and support lone frontman Febian Brandy, who was making his first competitive start since returning from England’s disaster of an U20 World Cup campaign. Triallist goalkeeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston had to make do with a place on the bench.
On the opposition’s side of the teamsheet, one name of interest – former Reserves captain Kieran Lee. A consistent and often impressive performer for the second string up until his slightly surprising free transfer departure in May 2008, many will remember Kieran as the scorer of a dramatic 119th minute winner in a Carling Cup tie at Crewe in late 2006. The versatile youngster from Stalybridge made three first-team appearances in total and was expected by many to have a productive career in the game, but thus far his time at Oldham has been disappointing, injuries hampering his bid to establish himself with the Latics.
As expected, United were quickest out of the blocks and had all the early chances. Norwood was unfortunate to have the sting taken out of a dangerous-looking freekick by a deflection, while Brandy latched onto a great Obertan throughball but pulled a shot across the face of goal. The Reds’ #9 was also frustrated to miss the target with a near post header that went narrowly wide.
No matter – the quality of United’s football, with the front three and the forward-thinking Hewson linking up excellently, meant that Febian didn’t have to wait long for his next chance. On 21 minutes the little forward received the ball with his back to goal some 35 yards out and instantly laid it off to Hewson before turning and easily beating the offside trip to get on the end of the return pass. His first touch wasn’t the greatest, but with Latics ‘keeper Ollerenshaw slow to come off his line, the finish was a simple one for the 20 year-old and he duly found the net for the first time this season.
The lead was doubled just a minute later, the pace of United’s wide players ripping Oldham to shreds on the counter attack. Obertan, who had started the game brightly, drifted infield from his right-wing station and found Brady on the opposite flank, who played in the overlapping Fábio. The Brazilian left-back burst into the area and flashed a cross-shot across the face of goal that was opportunistically tapped-in by the lurking Hewson. Simple passing and a straightforward finish, but devastatingly effective.
United could and really should have added to that rapidly-acquired lead before half-time, most notably when Norwood was played in by Obertan after a terrific one-touch move involving several players but could only shoot straight at Ollerenshaw. Robbie Brady also went agonisingly close with a freekick that shaved the near post.
Oldham will have been delighted to get to the break only 2-0 down and probably even more happy to see Messrs Obertan and Rafael depart with the first 45 minutes of their comebacks under their belts – Obertan in particular had really caught the eye on debut, showing terrific pace and tricky but also an apparent maturity to his game. What the hosts didn’t know of course was that the two replacements, Magnus Eikrem and Joshua King, were probably the second string’s most impressive performers so far this season.
That said, the half-time substitutions did coincide with the level of United’s play dipping considerably – no fault of the two Norwegians, but seemingly more a case of complacency creeping into the performance, perhaps understandable after such a one-sided first half but never something coaches or the paying public want to see. Oldham started to come into the game more, and United’s attack, which had appeared so fluent in the first half, now looked decidedly laboured.
Fortunately for the Reds, the Latics didn’t really possess the quality to punish this second-half lethargy, although they gave the United rearguard a few scares. Fábio in particular will have been a tad concerned when he brought down Csiki as the striker bore down on goal, but thankfully there was a covering defender and – unlike in the Carling Cup tie with Wolves – the card was only yellow.
Csiki’s strike partner Blackman went close with a low strike after a neat one-two, and the home side obviously started to grow in confidence. As the game moved into its final twenty minutes, Ben Amos was finally brought into action, the United stopper first producing a great close-range save to deny substitute Tischler’s volley before dealing well with a more routine but still-awkward effort from the same player.
Whether it was these close shaves or the increasing volume and urgency of the instructions from Solskjaer and Joyce on the touchline, United seemed to wake up somewhat as the clock ran down, helped by the introduction of the energetic Will Keane from the bench. As Oldham committed more men forward, gaps predictably began to open up, Matt James nearly capitalising on one of those as he timed his burst forward from midfield perfectly but saw his angled left-foot strike strike the far post and rebound to safety.
Brandy also went close with a left-foot strike from the edge of the box, before the Reds strung together a counter attack inside the three minutes of stoppage time that was far more in keeping with the exciting first forty-five minutes than the rather more turgid second half. Unsurprisingly it was the ever-improving Norwegians who were at the heart of things, Eikrem seizing possession near the halfway line and finding King with a perfectly-weighted throughball. The 17 year-old searing pace took him away from the chasing defenders and the finish was coolness personified.
3-0 was just about a fair scoreline given the superiority the Reds displayed in the first-half, but the sloppy second-half showing won’t have gone unnoticed by the Solskjaer/Joyce combination. From a purely statistical viewpoint, two wins, eight goals and none conceded from the opening two MSC games is about as good a start to the competition as you could ask for – Stockport County are next up on November 16th. In the meantime, the reserves have a friendly against Clyde to contend with this Sunday before they resume league commitments.
STAR MAN: Gabriel Obertan – one of many to shine in a first half that was great to watch, the new-boy gets the nod for an impressive bow in English football and an encouraging return from injury. Seems to be the week for impressive debuts for new French signings…
1. Ben Amos
2. Rafael da Silva (14. Magnus Eikrem 46)
3. Fábio da Silva
4. Scott Wootton
5. Oliver Gill
6. Matt James
7. Gabriel Obertan (15. Joshua King 46)
8. Sam Hewson (c) (12. Will Keane 68)
9. Febian Brandy
10. Oliver Norwood
11. Robbie Brady
Subs not used
13. Daniel Lloyd-Weston
Oldham Athletic: Ollerenshaw, McKerr, Black, Rowney, Fodor, Ojapah, Lee, Dembo-Leta, Blackman (Tischler 60), Brooke (Csorba 75), Csiki (Beszterczei 67).
Unused: White, Tarkowski.
Referee: M Astley