United U21s 1-1 Spurs U21s
Report from Old Trafford
10 March 2015|Tottenham Hotspur
Our top-of-the-table clash against Manchester United in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League ended all-square at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
Kenny McEvoy showed real composure to slot home a one-on-one chance past former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes on 26 minutes only for Rafael da Silva to level with a moment of magic six minutes later, lofting the ball over Luke McGee from 30 yards.
United's line-up most notably included striker Radamel Falcao, Rafael, Valdes and James Wilson.
However, Bongani Khumalo and Cameron Carter-Vickers kept Falcao quiet all night and Carter-Vickers came closest to a winner in the second half when his header came back off the crossbar.
United started with real intent in the first half without creating a notable chance and we had the first effort on goal when Grant Ward curled a free-kick over from the edge of the box.
Sean Goss drilled just wide from Falcao's set-up on 15 minutes and the Colombia striker just failed to meet Joe Rothwell's cross a minute later. From the corner, Andreas Pereira curled straight at McGee.
The game was starting to open up and we almost cashed in on 19 minutes as Ward chipped a pass in to Shaq Coulthirst, who shrugged off Tom Thorpe but blasted over from the left angle.
Shaq Coulthirst on the ball (picture supplied by Manchester United FC).
The opener arrived on 26 minutes. Rothwell tried a cross-field pass from the right-back position, McEvoy read it, intercepted and was through on Valdes. The young Irishman was calmness personified to place the ball in the corner.
That sparked a bright spell and we soon had two chances in a matter of seconds on the half-hour mark. Will Miller drifted in off the left to find Ward, who slipped as he shot. However, Ward won the ball straight back and found Coulthirst, whose deflected effort floated just wide.
Unfortunately, United got themselves back into the game two minutes later when McGee's throw out was picked off by Rafael and the full-back showed the presence of mind to lob the ball back over the goalkeeper's head and home from 30 yards.
Miller volleyed our final chance of the half wide before Pereira fizzed a shot over from 25 yards.
Play switched from end-to-end as the second half started brightly, Pereira again looking to strike from distance on 51 minutes, this time straight at McGee.
We came close to restoring our lead on 56 minutes when a clever free-kick from Ward found Coulthirst, who set McEvoy away down the right. He chipped in a cross, met by a glancing header from Carter-Vickers that came back off the crossbar.
A minute later, Ward got down the right and his cross came out to Miller, who volleyed straight at Valdes. Wilson responded at the other end, a 20-yard dipper gathered by McGee and then Coulthirst fired wide from 30 yards.
Within seconds, Rafael presented a chance to Goss, whose shot from 14 yards hit Falcao and made it easy for our stopper.
Rafael turned provider again on 65 minutes, his cross to the near post met by Wilson but once again McGee wasn't severely tested and collected easily.
Substitute Andy Kellett's low cross evaded Falcao and Wilson on 69 minutes before Falcao was replaced by Joshua Harrop four minutes later. At the same time, Luke Amos came on for Onomah.
Rafael provided dangerous crosses just in front of Wilson and then Khumalo did well, lunging in with Pereira at the near post with 78 minutes on the clock.
Daniel Akindayini joined the action on 79 minutes but it was United pushing on now and Connor Ogilvie blocked from Harrop after he was picked out by Kellett.
There was one further half-chance in three minutes of added time as James Grimshaw's header from Pereira's corner deflected just wide.
Ugo Ehiogu said
“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.
“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.”
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.”
Manchester United U21s: Valdes; Rafael, Love, Thorpe (c), James (Kellett, 63); Grimshaw, Goss, Rothwell (Tuanzebe, 85); Pereira, Falcao (Harrop, 73), Wilson. Substitutes (not used): Willock, O’Hara (GK).
Spurs U21s: McGee; Walker-Peters, Khumalo (c), Carter-Vickers, Ogilvie; Lesniak (McEneff, 87), Ward; McEvoy, Onomah (Amos, 73), Miller; Coulthirst (Akindayini, 79). Substitutes (not used): McQueen, Miles (GK).