Premier Under 21 League
Manchester United 0 Middlesbrough 0
An inspiring second half cameo from Wilfried Zaha wasn’t enough to break the stalemate in this fairly turgid encounter in Salford.
Although the Reds fielded a strong attacking line-up, they created few real chances prior to Zaha taking the field, replacing forgotten man Macheda who failed to impress in a wide position. Despite dominating possession in the first half, with Reece James enjoying a convincing performance in the holding midfield role, United created little other besides a few dangerous crosses from the right that Will Keane failed to convert and a near miss from a Larnell Cole shot from outside the box.
Although Boro were mainly restricted to solid defensive play, they did enjoy some threatening breaks of their own, and these became more numerous as the second half moved into gear. Only when Zaha came on did the mood change. While I don’t share the hysteria of many of my fellow Reds about the current state of United, I do share their bewilderment at the failure to deploy the winger more in senior games this season: the game quickly became the Zaha show, with frequent neat touches around the box, a series of superb crosses and a fine shot that Ripley, in the Boro goal, did well to get a hand to.
It didn’t prove the breakthrough, however, and United remain in an unfamiliar mid-table position in the Under-21 league ahead of the derby against city next Monday.