United 3-2 Spurs (PL2)
Report from Moss Lane
15 May 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Under-23s looked all set for victory at Old Trafford before a late Manchester United revival saw the home team take the points in the Premier League 2 on Monday night (May 15).
Quickfire goals from Jaden Brown and Samuel Shashoua turned the game in our favour at the start of the second half after we'd found ourselves behind at half-time despite dominating most of the first period.
However, Joshua Harrop had other ideas. United's goalscorer with their first effort at goal in the first half hit the target again on 79 and 87 minutes, smart finishes from inside the box to turn the game back on its head again.
In-between, arguably the key moments as United goalkeeper Joel Pereira saved from both Shilow Tracey and Shashoua one-on-one - you just felt a third goal at that stage would have put the game to bed. Pereira then delivered again in the final minute to deny Anthony Georgiou a dream return from injury, the winger having stepped off the bench after being sidelined since November.
Controlled start: few chances - 0-36mins
We dictated play for the majority of the first half without creating too many clear-cut chances until United's goal. In the opening exchanges, Will Miller saw a goalbound shot blocked by Tyrell Warren on 12 minutes, Shayon Harrison fired wide on two occasions and Tracey, released by Miller, chopped onto his right foot but curled straight at Pereira from just inside the box. Brown then tore forward, only to see his cross skid just too far in front of Tracey.
Goal: United 1-0 Spurs - Joshua Harrop - 37mins
United took the lead against the run of play. Matthew Olosunde bundled his way forward down the left and squared to Harrop, in space, central, 25 yards out and he pinged into the corner beyond Brandon Austin.
Chances: lads almost hit back immediately - 39mins
Our best chances of the half arrived straight after United's goal. Harrison angled Miller's low cross inches wide on 39 minutes and then a minute later, Tracey drilled low from the right angle, blocked by Pereira's feet.
Above: Will Miller on the ball.
Goal: United 1-1 Spurs - Jaden Brown - 47mins
The perfect start to the second half. Short, sharp interplay sent Tariq Hinds away down the right, his cross was met by his opposite full-back Brown at the far post and he contolled before rifling into the roof of the net.
Goal: United 1-2 Spurs - Samuel Shashoua - 50mins
We won possession high on the left side, Tracey broke into the box, was held up but did well to hold onto the ball and then roll into the path of supporting Shashoua who placed a measured sidefoot finish into the far corner.
Saves: big moments from Pereira at 2-1 - 56mins
We had two clear-cut chances as we took a grip of the game. The first came via a break from United's corner as Tracey burst forward and released Shashoua through on goal, central, but Pereira managed to block the one-on-one. Minutes later, a repeat performance as Tracey loomed large again on the left side, Pereira again down well to turn away his low shot.
Goal: United 2-2 Spurs - Joshua Harrop - 79mins
United stepped up a gear in the latter stages and levelled when Harrop dummied to shoot with his right foot, cut onto his left and drilled home from 12 yards.
Goal: United 3-2 Spurs - Joshua Harrop - 87mins
Dangerman Harrop completed his hat-trick with the winner three minutes from time, this time finding the top corner from close range.
Close: Georgiou denied - 89mins
Winger Georgiou almost made it a dream return from injury with a late, late equaliser, winning a challenge left side and smashing a low shot that Pereira again turned wide.
Coach Matt Wells said
“It’s very frustrating. I didn't think we should have been 1-0 down at half-time but we were and that was probably a reflection on not taking our chances and not being ruthless enough at one end. Then it was an unacceptable goal to give away. At half-time we tried to correct a few things, make a couple of changes in the mentality of the boys, to be more aggressive and to go for the throat a little bit more. We probably executed that for about half-an-hour in the second half, got the lead but the most disappointing aspect at that stage was that we didn't add the third and the fourth goals. If you lead a game at 2-1, you're always open to what happened in the last 15 minutes.
“The players have to understand that if they're going to make the next step, they have to take their chances. Certainly the two chances we had (at 2-1), you can't miss both of those – you shouldn't miss either of them to be honest. The same at the other end – the two goals we gave away at 2-1 up are unacceptable as a team in terms of the recovery runs of the players, the alertness and the decision-making defensively to dive in and open up the space. At this level, you get punished, let alone the next level. The players will have to work on the training ground every day to improve their habits and become elite at their jobs, but the disappointment today is that in both boxes we let ourselves down a little bit.
“It's difficult to find positives, but Anthony Georgiou came back from injury and I'm delighted for him. He's worked really hard, he's had a couple of setbacks along the way so I know it’s been a really difficult time for him but he came on, he looked strong, quick, aggressive and even created a chance for himself at the end there. He’ll be a little bit disappointed that he didn't score his chance but he's the positive for today.”
Manchester United: Pereira (c), Olosunde, Warren (Hamilton 54), Poole, Borthwick-Jackson, Kehinde, Willock, Harrop, Redmond (McIntosh-Buffonge 80), Bohui, Gribbin. Substitutes (not used): Johnstone (GK), Dunne.
Spurs: Austin, Hinds, Brown, Lesniak (c), Maghoma, Ogilvie, Shashoua (Loft 67), Amos, Harrison, Tracey (Georgiou 77), Miller (Goddard 74). Substitutes (not used): Marsh, Whiteman (GK).
Goals: United - Harrop 37, 79, 87; Spurs - Brown 47, Shashoua 50.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Maghoma 43, Amos 85.
Referee: Andrew Miller.
Where it leaves us
This final match of the Premier League 2 season leaves us 10th in the standings on 22 points. Victory at Old Trafford would have seen us rocket up to sixth, but that spot has now been taken by United themselves.