The Under 21s have been the one United team this season to have shown any consistent form and over 1500 of us made the trip to Leigh Sports Village looking to have our post-derby despondency eased, if not completely removed. An impressive Leicester City side saw things differently, however, and ran out 3-2 winners with a stoppage time goal. The fact that it came from a shot from the edge of the box by their left back, former Red Jack Barmby, says much about the commitment to attack shown by the visitors throughout the game.
United took the lead with a clinical finish from James Wilson in the eighth minutes but there were already signs that the Foxes, bottom of the Under 21 league but having served notice of their aspirations with a remarkable 6-2 win over Manchester city last time out, had enough quality to cause the Reds a lot of problems. In an open first half, they certainly did that. A forward line featuring another former United youngster Tom Lawrence consistently threatened the home goal, drawing two fine saves out of Ben Amos and rattling the woodwork twice as United fought to hang on to their lead.
United contributed much to an enjoyable first period also, with Wilson and Keane both going close, but it was no surprise when Leicester levelled with a goal from Dodoo and then took the lead, former Villa player Mark Albrighton firing home convincingly from a corner won after Amos had touched Knockaert’s free kick onto the bar and then been fortunate when the ball went out of play after rebounding off his back.
The second half brought more of the same and United grabbed an equaliser when Will Keane’s shot was deflected into his own goal by Sesay. From there it was pretty much end to end for long periods of the game, Albrighton and Lawrence both firing wide for Leicester before Keane spurned a chance when his weak header failed to find a way past Smith in the visitors’ goal.
It looked like the game was heading for a 2-2 draw but, two minutes into stoppage time, a United move broke down on the edge of the Leicester box and, not for the first time, the away team broke convincingly. Barmby’s shot was speculative but a deflection took it over Amos’ head to give his side an unlikely, but not undeserved, victory. The result was a setback for the young Reds, but their opponents looked anything but a bottom of the table team and have enough quality to cause problems to a lot of teams this season. With no home game until the end of January, United now have a series of away trips, starting with Chelsea on Sunday, and will be looking to put this first defeat of the season behind them as quickly as possible.