The U21s were having both feet in some sort of a decline prior to this game, with three games on the trot without a win. Fortunately, James Wilson and Paddy McNair(!) got United back on to winning tracks.
Wilson is a poacher, Grimshaw displays why he’s not
The first chance took place after only a minute of play when Liam Grimshaw, for the occasion wearing number ten, got into a one-on-one with Griffiths in the Everton net, but unlike United’s first team number ten, he was unable to convert the chance, and it faded away into a corner.
The second chance of the game occured not much long after. Everton’s Gallway succeded with intercepting Januzaj’s sloppy cross towards the right, but immediately failed to control the ball. Andreas Pereira was alert, won possession, pulled the trigger, and James Wilson had shown up at the office in time to slot home the rebound of Pereira’s saved shot.
Lindegaard not bothered by Blues
Within the first fifteen minutes of the game, Everton booked their first shot on target as well. They managed to string together a few passes inside the United box, and when the former Bradford City academy player George Green’s effort deflected off Thorpe, it didn’t look too good for United, but Lindegaard was on par with it.
The Everton striker David Henen had another attempt saved, as he cut inside away from Andy Kellett and tested Lindegaard, but the shot didnt really trouble the Dane. Ryan Ledson, who joined the Toffees at five, had a go almost immediately after, but the ball sailed a few inches above the crossbar.
36 minutes into the game, Galloway got into a wide position on the left and squared it towards the far post. Thankfully for United, Jones failed to make a contact, because if he had done, an equaliser would’ve been inevitable.
Unexpected crack from the back
Straight before half-time, United extended the lead. Andreas Pereira curled in a free-kick, and despite it getting cleared through a header, the goalkeeper being all over the place was relentlessly punished by Paddy McNair, who volleyed it home with his instep. That was basically the perfect response to him being picked for the Northern Ireland squad for games against Scotland and Finland, and additionally completed his scousebusting double, after scoring against Liverpool earlier this season in the U21s league.
Eventful start fades into nothing
Bookings arent’t that common on the U21 level, but nonetheless Donald Love made it into the referee’s book after 50 minutes. The Rochdale-born versatile defender dived into a sliding tackle and was immediately awarded with a card of the brightest colour.
David Henen entered the stage within a couple of second half minutes as he got a half decent chance, but his effort just shaved the post before flying into the Jack Carr stand.
The half passed away in an uneventful manner, with Everton having a few half chances and United not too interested in approaching the third goal. Ten minutes from time, United had a free-kick, and Pereira and Thorpe were the only ones inside the Everton box ready to finish off a Januzaj cross (which never came.) Minutes after, Ledson skied a pull-back by the offensive left back Galloway.
… Before things heated up in the dying minutes
After 86 minutes though, the game caught a bright spark. Sean Goss miscontrolled a squared pass inside the box, and as the ball deflected off his own arm, the referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot. Jonjoe Kenny made no mistakes, and pulled one back from the Scousers, with a composed and inch-perfect strike towards the bottom right corner.
Andreas Pereira had a couple of opportunities to kill the game off in added time, but the third goal never materialised for United. The first attempt, on a free-kick, deflected off the wall and went over, and the second was brilliantly blocked by the Premier League veteran Sylvain Distin, who timed his sliding tackle perfectly to block the close-range shot.
Nonetheless, United won the first league game in four attempts and remain on the top of the U21 table, which obviously made it a pleasant night for Warren Joyce & co.
United: Lindegaard – Love, McNair, Thorpe, Kellett – Grimshaw, Goss, – Rothwell (Weir 46), A. Pereira, Januzaj – Wilson (Harrop 39)
Subs: Harrop, O’Hara, Willock, Weir, C. Evans
Everton: Griffiths – Kenny, Distin, Browning, Galloway – Walsh (Dowell 54) – Junior, Ledson, Green (Donohue 87), Jones – Henen
Subs: Hunt, Lundstram, Dowell, Connolly, Donohue