The academy kicked off their campaign with a disappointing defeat at the hands of a physical Stoke City side at Carrington on Saturday morning. A United team that included last year’s FA Youth Cup stars Mats Daelhi and James Wilson took control of the game in the early stages, with the home side going close through Sam Byrne.
With 15 minutes gone, some tidy play from Daehli found Byrne whose through ball was latched onto by midfielder Ben Pearson who composed himself in front of goal before lashing home to give the reds a 1-0 lead. The rest of the opening 45 minutes proved an even encounter with both sides playing some good football, and on the stroke of half time, Stoke grabbed an equaliser through Derice Richards, whose curled attempt found the top corner.
The second half saw Stoke really take a grip of the game, and if it weren’t for some fantastic saves from United keeper Sutherland, the deficit could have been much bigger. With 72 minutes gone, Stoke took a deserved lead when a corner was headed in by Alabi.
In the latter stages of the game, with Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley watching from the sidelines, United pushed for an equaliser but the end product in the final third was lacking and the reds were resigned to their first defeat of the new season. Full time arrived with Stoke taking the 3 points with a 1-2 victory.
Despite the result there were plenty of positives to take from the match, United’s stand out players were Mats Daelhi and goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland who pulled off a series of top class saves.
With the main aim of the academy set up to allow players regular game time and a chance to flourish and mature as footballers ; it will be interesting to track their development over the course of the season and in particular the highly coveted FA Youth Cup, in which United have won a record 10 times.
Team: Sutherland; Grimshaw, McNair, McConnell, Rowley (Pereira); Weir, Pearson (Harrop), Rothwell, Daehli; Byrne (Love), Wilson. Sub not used: Dalley.
Scorer(s) Pearson (15)