What’s normally a routine victory for the Reds in the Manchester Senior Cup this year became a hard-fought battle with Bury as the two sides shared six goals, five of them coming in a thrilling second half, before United won the tie 4-2 on penalties.
Bury generally provide easy opposition in this competition but United always struggled to get hold of the game, particuarly in a lack lustre first half performance. With the free-scoring James Wilson and Will Keane starting up front together for the first time, there was always a potential goal threat on the field, but the service from midfield was poor and gradually Bury gained confidence and began to pose threats themselves. United’s defence always looked nervy and there was little surprise when this yielded a goal for the home side: Sutherland in the United goal had a routine clearance to make, but played it straight to McDermott who calmly set up Rooney to drive the ball past the keeper.
It was not the first time the United defence had looked stretched and Bury went in at half-time deserving their lead. However, the Reds started the second half with more purpose and a driving run out of defence from Tom Thorpe started a move that had Bury on the back foot; James Wilson picked up the ball and surged towards goal, completing the move with what’s already become a trademark finish from the young forward. Despite that, Bury were ahead again in 69 minutes, thanks to a thunderbolt from Rooney, but the lead lasted barely a minute when a powerful run on the left from Tyler Blackett led to Will Keane finding space in the area and finding the net with ease.
Fine work again from Blackett led to United taking the lead. He combined well with Reece James on the left before getting to the goal-line and cutting back perfectly for Keane to slot home again. It seemed this would win the game but substitute Dudley did brilliantly to fire past Sutherland’s near post under pressure, setting up a finish in which both sides went for the win but couldn’t add to the scoreline. Then came penalties and, as soon as the chance to net the winner fell to the cool head of Tom Thorpe, you sensed it was over. It was, and United may be ultimately pleased that the likes of Pereira and Wilson, making the step up out of the youth set-up, had a challenging game. It was a test that, in the end, the young Reds came through, but not without a few scares on the way.