Manchester United managed to cling on to a 2-1 win against Stockport County Reserves in the Lancashire Senior Cup in a largely dull game at Edgeley Park.
United lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Charni Ekengamene and Nick Powell sitting in the centre of the park, in front of a defence of James, Blackett, Wooton and Vermijl. Jonathan Sutherland was given the nod in goal. Angelo Henriquez played up top, with Bebe occupying the right wing and initially Adnan Januzaj on the left, although he did switch with Macheda midway through the first half to play in the centre.
The game had few moments of excitement in freezing conditions, so the County fans decided to entertain themselves through a variety of unimaginative and occasionally bizarre chanting. Amongst the general United hatred, a favourite seems to be “Get into them – f**k ‘em up”, so you can imagine the quality of football they’re used to in these parts.
The first half was especially poor, with Bebe the stand out performance with some good, strong runs. He managed to hit the side netting, causing half the stand to start celebrating thinking he’d scored.
The best chances fell to Stockport, with Nick Powell forced to clear off the line, and failing to convert a chance after getting round Tyler Blackett too easily. United’s other decent attempts on goal being limited to a good cross by Reece James which was nearly headed into his own net by County defender Danny O’Donnell, and a good ball across the face of goal by Januzaj which every player in a red shirt managed to miss. Powell was also replaced five minutes before half time with an injury, Luke Hendrie coming on in his place.
United managed to get off the mark shortly after half time with Henriquez’s first shot on goal after good build-up play by Macheda.
Two minutes later and Bebe made it two through a low shot from outside the area. Although arguably the keeper will feel disappointed, the Portuguese deserved his goal for a very good performance.
Unfortunately, this didn’t signal the opening of the floodgates the reds will have been hoping for. The game returned to a scrappy affair with a few flashes of excitement. Bebe and Macheda combined down the right wing, forcing a good save, and Henriquez shot over the bar just after the hour mark. Bebe had the chance to grab a second with excellent work beating four men in the box before shooting wide.
Tom Lawrence came on for Macheda with just over ten minutes to go, in a period that Stockport began to grow in confidence. They had a good break down the left wing which was only cut out after good covering work by Blackett, and the defender was forced to intervene again on the 82nd minute with a strong clearing header over the bar.
However, from the resulting corner County managed to grab one back. Henriquez failed to track the run of his man, a fact which didn’t go unnoticed by a furious Warren Joyce on the sidelines, and Eckersley headed in.
It could have got a lot worse as well, as County had a good penalty shout for a possible equalizer just before 90 minutes in a match no one wanted to see drag on for penalties. The attacker tumbled over in front of an onrushing Sutherland, and the Stockport protests were loud and high pitched. The referee though was unimpressed and gave a County corner, which failed to clear the first United man.
While Stockport’s late period of dominance did leave United clinging on to the lead somewhat, it was a deserved victory on balance of play. Next up for the Under 21s is a trip to Tottenham in the league on Saturday.