United fielded Radamel Falcao, Victor Valdes, Rafael da Silva and James Wilson but our young team - all-bar Bongani Khumalo aged 20 or under, including three 17-year-olds and two 18-year-olds - were undaunted and took the game to the hosts in the first half.
Kenny McEvoy finished expertly one-on-one past Valdes to open the scoring on 26 minutes during our best spell from midway in the first half to the hour mark.
Unfortunately, we handed United the chance to get back into the game on 32 minutes when Luke McGee’s throw out was intercepted by Rafael and the full-back lofted the ball home from 30 yards.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, outstanding again in central defence alongside skipper Bongani, the pair keeping Falcao quiet throughout, came closest to a winner in the second half when his header came back off the crossbar.
Rafael’s raids down the right flank pushed us back in the final 25 minutes but we held firm for a deserved point.
“There is a disappointment that we didn’t win the game and that we didn’t show the real side of us with a little more guile in the final third,” reflected coach Ugo.
“I thought we were competent and had decent control of the game but in the final third we lacked a little.
“We defended well though and when Bongani and Cameron are in the team we can always rely on a block, someone putting their body on the line or winning headers and they’ve showed that, they’ve been excellent defensively.
“It was a big test for the lads and have they done themselves justice? Yes. Could we have done better? Yes as well. But we come away with a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford against the team they put out and you have to be reasonably pleased.”
Below: Shaq Coulthirst takes on Sean Goss (photo courtesy of Manchester United)
There was plenty for Ugo and the coaching team to take from individual performances, not least 17-year-old Cameron’s display alongside Bongani up against such a world-renowned striker as Falcao.
“You try not to expect too much but I always back Cameron and I had no issue with him being able to handle the situation,” added Ugo, an England international centre-back during his playing career.
“We’ve always had confidence in him and he isn’t fazed by anything. It was United at Old Trafford, he was up against a world-class striker and his performance was a real testament to the lad. It all bodes well for the future.”
Kenny’s fine finish also caught the eye, the winger able to play for us under the terms of his loan at Colchester.
“I thought certainly in the first half Kenny took his big moment well,” added Ugo. “There were a couple of combinations, he showed good pace and that’s what he can offer the team as a threat in behind. He really wanted to play and it was great to see him score his goal.”
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