After recently playing a series of matches in Germany, including the Sparkassen Bundesliga Cup, Manchester United’s u18s travelled to Northern Ireland to take part in the SuperCupNI.
Formerly known as the Milk Cup, United’s u18s are taking part in a showcase two match event in a rare club vs nation showdown with Northern Ireland, the first of which took place last night.
United started off the match shakily as Tom Myles was almost caught with the ball at his feet twice in the opening minutes but he managed to just about get the ball away on both occasions.
Northern Ireland scored in the 5th minute through Conor Scannell when his from 20 yards bounced in front of Myles and he misjudged it as it went over his outstretched arms and in.
In the 9th minute Northern Ireland almost added a second as Myles flapped at the cross from the right but the forward’s header landed on the top of the net.
Northern Ireland doubled their lead in the 15th minute. United couldn’t maintain possession in midfield and Northern Ireland quickly carved through United for Lewis Trickett to race through and slide past Myles.
United got their first shot on target in the 27th as a slip in midfield from Northern Ireland allowed James Nolan to pick up the ball and drive towards the box before laying off the ball to Dan Gore but the skipper’s curled effort didn’t have enough power to really trouble the keeper.
United were in trouble again in the 40th as Northern Ireland broke on the counter and raced down the right but great defending by Louis Jackson cut out the cross.
United thought they pulled one back just before the half but were unbelievably denied. Sam Murray’s cross found Sam Mather dead centre six yards out but he was denied by the keeper and Manni Norkett’s follow up from close range was also stopped by a spectacular goal line block to keep Northern Ireland’s two goal lead into the half.
United started the second brightly and pulled one back within three minutes. Gore danced into the box and past another defender to the byline before cutting back for Ethan Williams to score from close range.
Northern Ireland looked to respond with a dangerous whipped in cross but Habeeb Ogunneye was covering at the back post to head away.
United looked to catch the opposition out with a quick corner as Gore slipped into the box and laid off for Murray but he got it all wrong on his weaker foot and the ball ended up near the corner flag.
A triple substitution in 64th minute saw the introduction of Ethan Ennis, who almost made an instant impact as he was played in over the top by Jack Kingdon but he couldn’t get his shot away quick enough allowing the Northern Irish defender to poke the ball behind for a corner.
The resulting corner was hit behind again for another attempt. Taken short, Nolan put in a deep ball for Sonny Aljofree to knock down at the back post and the waiting Kingdom struck into the open net to equalise.
United come close to taking lead in the 79th through a cross from Ennis from left to the rising Norkett in the centre but he connected poorly and sent it wide.
Three minutes later and Ennis wouldn’t make the same mistake. Pressing high in the corner, James Scanlon won possession and quickly put the ball into the box to find Ennis’ front post run to direct into the goal.
United held on to the 3-2 victory to cap off a remarkable second half comeback led by Ethan Ennis and Dan Gore.
A rematch of the fixture will take place on Wednesday at the Ballymena Showgrounds and will be live on BBC Sport NI.
United: Myles, Ogunneye, Jackson, Kingdon, Murray (Ajofree 64), Curley (Scanlon 64), Gore, Nolan (Curley 89), Williams (Ennis 64), Mather, Norkett
Unused Subs: Harrison, Lawrence, Oyedele