The Red Devils’ front man lashed home after a 13th-minute corner led to a spell of penalty area pinball, before seizing the initiative and firing in a second from outside the area 10 minutes before the break.
The visitors’ defence proved particularly tough to break down for our lads, with Armani Daly’s first half drive that smacked off the crossbar the closest we went to hitting the target ourselves.
We made a bright start to the Barclays Under-18 Premier League contest at the Training Centre, buoyed by the memory of a fine 4-1 victory over Manchester City on home soil a week ago.
Chris Paul got forward but headed wide from Cy Goddard’s early corner, while left-back Joe Muscatt remained alert in defence to head behind after Ruairi Croskerey failed to connect with Ethan Hamilton’s whipped cross from the left flank.
United looked dangerous down that side and, three minutes later, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s low ball across the face of goal evaded everyone and found its way out to Tyler Reid on the right. He fed Callum Gribbin on the edge of the box and he, in turn, produced a fine save from Harry Voss – our goalkeeper diving low to his left to tip the ball around the post.
From the resulting corner, United grabbed the lead. Gribbin took the kick and, after we failed to clear our lines as the ball pinged around a congested area, Rashford thumped home to give his side a 13th-minute advantage.
We nearly got back on level terms within 60 seconds as Daly cut in from the right and saw his rising left-footed shot cannon back off the crossbar with goalkeeper George Dorrington having seen it late, but United maintained their composure and might have extended their lead on 25 minutes when Hamilton sprinted down the left and sent Rashford through goal side of Anton Walkes – only for our skipper to make a perfectly-timed tackle from behind at the expense of a corner.
The visitors did double their advantage 10 minutes later, however, with Rashford pouncing on a loose ball in midfield, teeing himself up with his first touch before lashing inside the near post from 20 yards out with his second.
Voss was in the way as Croskerey looked for a third goal four minutes before the interval but, while the visitors made a substitution at the break with Joe Riley replacing Hamilton on the left, we remained unchanged as we went in search of a breakthrough at the start of the second period.
The hard-working Zenon Stylianides embarked on a commanding charge through the middle on 54 minutes but, after taking his pass, Ismail Azzaoui’s shot was under-hit and comfortable for Dorrington.
Croskerey shot wide of the near post under pressure from Walkes at the other end a minute later, while the introduction of Anthony Georgiou momentarily gave as an added spark – the wide man trying a long-range shot four minutes after his introduction which Dorrington could only parry. Kazaiah Sterling tried to recycle the loose ball but went to ground in the box with Riley in close proximity – the referee said nothing doing as we appealed for a penalty.
Devonte Redmond blazed over as he made a near post run to meet Reid’s low ball in with 63 minutes played, while Rashford’s 30-yard free-kick dipped just wide of the upright six minutes later as United maintained their attacking threat.
Now playing with three at the back, we got forward when Jaden Brown collected Azzaoui’s well-timed pass as he raced down the left, but his cross was over-hit and the ball drifted out on the far side.
Azzaoui was in the thick of things again 11 minutes from time, doing well to keep his shot on the turn below waist height as Goddard’s ball over the top was knocked down nicely for him – but Dorrington was still able to make a routine stop.
That was our last real chance of note as United saw out the contest to take all three points.
Spurs U18s: Voss, Paul (Edwards 89), Muscatt (Loft 68), Owens, Walkes, Brown, Daly (Georgiou 57), Stylianides, Sterling, Goddard, Azzaoui. Substitute (not used): Austin (GK).