United and Tottenham faced off Tuesday night, with both hoping to get on the right side of a gap on the top of the table, but just like in the U21 league, they follow each other like shadows.
The biggest surprise took place even before the game kicked off, as Radamel Falcao was playing up-front for the hosts after being sat on the bench in the FA Cup game against Arsenal. In 2011, there probably was some money to pick up for those who betted on Victor Valdes and Falcao coming to play for United’s reserves, so at least there was experience in the United side.
Pereira in an unusual role
The first chance of the game took place in the ninth minute, when Andreas Pereira gave away a free-kick outside the box. Fortunately Tottenham’s centre-midfielder Grant Ward was unable to exchange it for something of proper worth, as he skied it in an unaccurate effort. As those who watch the U21s regularly know, it was a little bit unexpected to see Pereira on this side of a free-kick, as he usually is the one who curls them over the wall and towards the corner, but this time he was the one setting up the chance for the opposition.
United’s Colombian superstar Falcao involved thimself twice around quarter of an hour mark. Firstly, Rafael sent him on a solo run, but he didn’t really have the required pace, hesitated to shoot and in the end the Spurs defence caught up with him. Subsequently, he almost got onto a cross from the right. But just like on first team level, it didn’t pay off. Five minutes later, James Wilson was cutting inside from the right, pulled the trigger, but the shot got blocked – by ironically Falcao. The icing on the cake was the Colombian being ruled offside for when blocking Wilson’s attempt.
Rothwell’s Valencia impression
27 minutes into the game, Tottenham were basically handed a goal by Joe Rothwell, with some similarity to how the former United U21 player Danny Welbeck sent United out of the FA Cup one day prior. McEvoy intercepted a horrible square pass by the 20-year-old Rothwell and made no mistakes against Victor Valdes in the United net, after getting past Donald Love with a quick touch.
Only two minutes later, the Tottenham striker Shaquille Coulthirst was only inches away from extending the Lilywhites’ lead, after Donald Love had lost possession, but United got away with it.
Rafael’s piece of art
After 32 minutes, Radamel Falcao got onto a cross, but was unable to deliver a proper finish. Nonetheless, when Luke McGee was about to throw the ball back into play, Rafael was alert and delivered an absolute masterpiece! The Brazilian chested down the throw, had a look up and composedly chipped McGee on the volley – with his left foot! United were back on level terms!
Seven minutes prior to half time, Joe Rothwell could’ve assisted Falcao with a square pass inside the box, but he lacked accuracy and Falcao couldn’t really do much. This really summed up the game for Falcao, maybe even his entire United career.
The first half faded away with to Andreas Pereira attempts as the noticeable action, which of both were off target. The first one included him cutting in from the left and curling it something like towards the far corner. Not many minutes later, he attempted a more powerful effort, but the ball rose above the crossbar by some margin.
Tottenham hitting the framework
The second half opened in an uneventful fashion, but ten minutes into it, Cameron Carter-Vickers came extremely close to lighten things up. The goalscorer McEvoy chipped it to him fron the byline, but Carter-Vickers wasn’t able to get any closer than rattling the crosssbar with a header.
After an hour of play, Rafael was on the run down the right hand side, like many other times during the game. He squared it for Sean Goss, whose effort deflected off Falcao. Unfortunately, he didn’t really deflect it properly, and the ball basically stopped right in front of the goalkeeper.
Harrop on, Falcao off
After 71 minutes, Josh Harrop replaced the former Monaco striker, who didn’t exactly look happy with Joyce’ decision. At first, Falcao looked like a question mark, which turned into a baffled expression when he realised he was going off. Apparently, Ryan Giggs was the one who had told Joyce that Falcao was to be subbed.
This meant Harrop on the right, and Wilson moved in centrally his his natural role, from the right hand side where he had been playing up to that point.
Fifteen minutes from time, Andy Kellet, who had come on for an injured Reece James, went on a run down the left hand side. Ultimately, he found Harrop, who abandoned an eventual pass after having a look around, but his shot ended straight at the keeper.
The lack of clear-cut chances
United were completely in charge at this point, but lacked the final pass to set up a winner, which is quite ironic, as the problem in recent years has been the lack of strikers available at some point during the season. In this game, both Wilson and Falcao (who are both superior on this level) were around, but the chances weren’t really created.
The overlapping Andy Kellett had a fair attempt to create an assist five minutes from time, but Harrop’s final effort was blocked and the ball rolled undangerously out for a corner.
United got a couple of corner kicks as the game entered stoppage time, but it faded away into nothing.
United, top of the league (for how long?)
This means hree draws in the last four games and three straight league draws, for United U21s, who currently still are cruising on the top of the table, just above Tottenham on one(!) more goal scored. However this isn’t a two-horse race, with both Chelsea and Liverpool able to catch up with United, as they do have one and two games in hand respectively.
United: Valdes – Rafael, Love, Thorpe, James (Kellett 63) – Grimshaw – Rothwell (Tuanzebe 83), Pereira, Goss – Wilson, Falcao (Harrop 71)
Unused subs: O’Hara, Willock
Tottenham: McGee – Walker-Peters, Khumalo, Carter-Vickers, Ogilvie – Lesniak (Mcneff 86) – Ward – McEvoy, Onomah (Amos 72), Miller – Coulthirst
Unused subs: Miles, Akindayini, McQueen