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Academy Match Report: Southampton u18s 1-5 Manchester United u18s

by Colm Murphy

Manchester United u18s returned from the international break in their final group stage match of the Premier League Cup.

With only the top team advancing, United needed to secure a win and they went for it from the opening minute with an immediate ball into the right channel for Malachi Sharpe to chance onto and cut back to Ethan Wheatley’s one-time strike off the post.

Still within the opening five minutes, United were smothering Southampton with chances, the next coming from Harry Amass slipping through Sharpe to shoot from a wide angle, which was saved by the keeper’s feet straight to Wheatley for the rebound. But well-timed defending blocked his effort.

It didn’t take long to make the breakthrough though and in the seventh minute Wheatley gave United the lead. Jack Fletcher spread the play to James Scanlon on the left wing. He curled his shot to the far post which Southampton keeper, Dylan Moody, could only palm into the path of Wheatley for an easy finish.

United were dominating proceedings and Scanlon came close to adding a second with another curled effort towards the right corner but the stretching Moody was able to turn it around the post this time.

Southampton offered their own threat though midway through the half, when they worked the ball into United’s box to a wide open Princewill Ehibhatiomhan. He should have scored but for an unbelievable save from Elyh Harrison to deny the close-range strike.

United then added a second in the 35th minute. Jack Fletcher was pulling the strings again with a perfectly-weighted through ball to Sharpe whose shot was parried up into the sky for the incoming Wheatley to head into the back of the net.

Minutes later Wheatley completed his hat-trick to extend United’s lead. Unsurprisingly, it all started with Jack Fletcher again winning possession high up the pitch before quickly playing to Scanlon who laid off to Wheatley for an expertly taken goal off his weaker foot.

It went in 0-3 at the break but could have easily been more for both sides with a number of impressive saves from Harrison and Moody.

The second half kicked off at a slower pace as United looked to calm down from the end to end first half with a more controlled approach.

It wasn’t until late on when substitute Ashton Missin injected some pace to the proceedings to race down the right wing and cross from Gabriele Biancheri who was stopped by another of Moody’s De Gea-esque saves with his feet.

But in the 78th minute, Missin latched onto a loose pass from Southampton before racing into the box and passing to Biancheri, whose poor first touch fortunately bounced passed the keeper opening for an easy tap in.

United then made it five when Biancheri drove into the box before being clipped down for a penalty. Wheatley stepped up to add his fourth of the match in style as he Panenka’d down the middle of the goal. A clinical performance showing why the club are trying nail down his future.

Southampton added a late consolation goal through Ehibhatiomhan but it was much too late to launch a comeback as they match ran out with United 1-5 victors.

The win places United top of the group and almost certain to advance with the final fixture between Reading and Wolves requiring one of them to make up an unlikely seven goal differential.

United: Harrison, Ogunneye (Devaney 61), Jackson, Kingdon, Amass, T. Fletcher (Curley 66), Fitzgerald, Sharpe (Biancheri 66), J.Fletcher, Scanlon (Missin 61), Wheatley

Unused subs: Myles

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