In the bizarrely scheduled U21 league, United spent Monday night away at Norwich, trying to maintain the unbeaten record of two wins and a draw this season. The hosts, on the other hand, had doubled United’s amount of games (three) in their losses column, winning and drawing once each from their eight games played. Additionally, no-one had scored more than once for Norwich prior to the game.
The first quarter of an hour went by without any noticeable action. The first half chance fell to United, as Ashley Fletcher tried to nod home a Sean Goss cross, but the former didn’t manage to make proper contatct with the ball.
United were lined up in a 4-4-2 system with Fletcher and Nick Powell (who made his U21 comeback in this game) up-front.
Rudd enjoys a day at the office
James Weir and Joe Riley pushed on for the opener relatively early on, with the former coming over from his right-sided postion to attempt a 1-2 pass with the left-back. However, Riley’s cross was blocked, and the away side only got a corner kick, which didn’t really yield anything.
Harrop had a proper attempt in the 34th minute when Fletcher laid it off for him to finish, but Declan Rudd managed to deny him. From the subsequent Sean Goss corner kick, Rudd was forced to make another save, coming from an Axel Tuanzebe shot, after some chaos in the box.
United’s skipper James Weir was not too close away from making United take the lead a few minutes before half-time, as he found a pocket of space inside the box when Varela overlapped him, and Weir tried to slot it home, but Rudd managed both to save the attempt and deny Nick Powell any sniff of a rebound.
In other words United created some shots on target in this period, but never really challenged Rudd, as any shot gone in would’ve been a howler.
United escape dismissal
The game was half a decision away from turning massively uphill just as we entered the final minute of the first half. Josh Harrop went for a completely unneccesary sliding tackle with a straight leg and showing of studs in the middle of the park, and was nothing but lucky to only be handed a booking.
Warren Joyce shuffles the deck…
Marcus Rashford came on for an unimpressive Nick Powell after 55 mins to his second appearance on this level. Additionally he joined the first team’s squad to Watford at the weekend. Powell, on the other hand, hadn’t played since February, so his uninspiring display is somehow excused. After all, this is a stage for development and retaining fitness, not all about results like in the Premier League.
… but it doesn’t pay off
Immediately in the wake of Rashford coming on, the ball found the way to the back of the net. Unfortunately for the Reds, it was Graham Dorrans who provided the assist, an accurate aerial through-ball to Kyle Lafferty, who kept Borthwick-Jackson at bay and smashed it brilliantly into the top corner. The disappointed Sam Johnstone could only bewatch the ball sail over his head when the Canaries went 1-0 up.
Rashford, however, was close to equalising minutes after. The Norwich centre-back Michee Efete struggled and the United striker dribbled past him to face Rudd, but Efete recovered impressively with a magnificent sliding tackle in the very last second.
Loss of MUTV transmission – what was even going on?
After 66 minutes of play, MUTV lost transmission, so the only thing the writer knows about the subsequent 15 minutes is that Norwich extended their lead. James Weir had an exceptionally poor pass intercepted, which resulted in the pacy winger Jamar Loza getting through and slotting home the second goal of the game.
Lack of United menace
In the final ten minutes of the showdown, United enjoy most of possession, but didn’t really exploit it, failing to create a single clear-cut chance. Norwich, on the other hand, looked for 3-0 on the counter, but particularly the pace of Axel Tuanzebe prevented that from happening, and the game somehow faded away.
Not exactly top of the league
This means that the current title holders United are in touch with the wrong end of the table as things stand. However, the number of games played, not to say postponed, is obviously playing a cruical role. For instance, six of the other eleven clubs in the league have played twice as many games as Warren Joyce’ men, if not more.
Norwich: Rudd – Whittaker, Crow, Efete, Hall-Johnson (Middleton 80) – Dorrans – McGrandles – Loza, King, Eaton-Collins (Lewis 88) – Lafferty (Uade 66)
Subs: Lewis, Killip, Grant, Middleton, Uade Scorers: Lafferty 56, Loza 70(?)
Manchester United: Johnstone – Varela, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson, Riley – Weir, Redmond, Goss, Harrop – Fletcher (Willock 66) , Powell (Rashford 55)
Subs: O’Hara, Willock, Rathbone, Rashford