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Manchester Utd U-21s v Spurs U-21s, 20.05.13
Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List
[e-mail Ray Lo]

          Premier U-21 League Final
           Old Trafford, Manchester
          Monday 20th May 2013, 7pm

      MANCHESTER UTD   v       SPURS
       (Red/White)          (White/Blue)
           4-5-1               4-3-3

            3(0)                2(2)

             Ben Amos  1 Jordan Archer
      Marnick Vermijl  2 Ryan Fredericks
          Reece James  3 Ezekiel Fryers
           Tom Thorpe  4 Thomas Carroll
      Michael Keane(C) 5 Grant Hall(C)
    Charni Ekangamene  6 Milos Veljkovic
          Ben Pearson  7 Alex Pritchard
     Ryan Tunnicliffe  8 Nabil Bentaleb
        Jesse Lingard  9 Jonathan Obika
        Adnan Januzaj 10 Harry Kane
         Larnell Cole 11 Cristian Ceballos

        Liam Grimshaw 12 Jack Barthram
  Jonathan Sutherland 13 Jonathan Miles
         Tom Lawrence 14 Giancarlo Gallifuoco
      Andreas Pereira 15 Kevin Stewart
         James Wilson 16 Kenneth McEvoy 

      Vermijl 59         Obika 29
      Cole 74, 88        Pritchard 42

      Lingard 34(Late)   Hall 24(Holding)
      Lawrence 66(Late)  Bentaleb 32(Late)
      Cole 73(Late)      Carroll 90+2(Foul)

      W. Joyce           C. Ramsey

Attendance:- About 4,500 

Referee: R. Madley
Assistants: A. Halliday & A Holmes
Fourth Official: D. Coote

The author Ray Lo at work in the Old Trafford press box It was a pleasant evening in Manchester for the Play-off final of the new U-21 league which saw the winners meet the second placed team who had successfully navigated their way to this match. The last time Spurs played a reserve league final was back when there was a northern section and southern one. Strangely Spurs also had to play United at Old Trafford as well. No neutral ground was used then or now. That is something for the organisers to think about. There was a good sized crowd with plenty of support for the away team.

Spurs lined up with Archer in goal behind a central defensive partnership of Hall and Veljkovic. Fredericks was at right back and Fryers on the left. Carroll played a deeper roll in front of the defence with Bentaleb and Kane while up front Obika led the line with Ceballos and Pritchard alongside of him. The home side was set up to defend with one up front and a five man midfield which often became six when the lone striker dropped to help his midfield.

Spurs kicked off attacking the Stretford End and were seeking to pass their way through the deep defensive formation deployed by the Reds. It was noticeable that Kane was more advanced in support of the front three than usual leaving Carroll and Bentaleb to do more of the midfield work. Because the home side sat so deep, this worked well in the first half.

The first chance fell to Carroll who fired over from distance. Kane slipped his marker on the left touchline and got down the left before putting in a cross. Obika flicked it on at the near post only to see it come back off the crossbar.

A break saw Cole advance down the right channel but fire wide. Ceballos came inside and shot over before Lingard was played in for a chance that Archer saved. Kane worked an opening to fire in a shot from the edge of the area that Amos half saved diving to his left with the ball hitting the inside of the post before being cleared for a corner.

Kane had another effort that was just wide before Lingard got the better of Hall, but was pulled back by the Spurs captain before he could get into the visitors' half. The referee, who had shown a lot of leniency to the tackles coming in on the Spurs players had no choice but to show him a yellow.

Archer saved from Januzaj before Spurs took a deserved lead. Spurs moved the ball across the middle before Kane put in a cross from the left to the far post for Obika. The striker went up with the keeper who could not get a clean punch to clear resulting in it dropping near the penalty spot. Pritchard reacted quickest diving to head the ball goal-ward and Obika turned it home.

Spurs continued to have the better of the game but United were always seeking to break. Keane headed wide from Lingard's free kick. Bentaleb was booked for a foul having lost possession when he thought he was fouled himself. He was followed into the ref's book by Lingard for a very late tackle on Ceballos. Obika won the ball deep in the United half and laid it off to Kane who laid it into the path of Pritchard for the wide-man to drive it low into the far side of the net to extend the visitors' lead.

There were no changes for the start of the second half which saw the home side stepping up a few yards but still with only one up front. This changed when they made a change ten minutes in. Lawrence replaced Pearson and he and Cole began to look for runs down the flanks and supported Januzaj more.

United also played more balls over the top bringing a chance that Archer saved. Vermijl ran onto a long ball putting his cross over the bar before a repeat ball saw him get round the back and drive the ball in to pull a goal back.

Spurs began to drop off more as the Reds' confidence grew. Spurs replaced Pritchard with McEvoy whose first contribution was to get to the line and put in a cross just under the bar that Amos had to tip over.

Lawrence was booked for a late tackle on Carroll before Ceballos cut inside from the right curling in a shot which Amos saved. Cole chased a ball in the area and went over Archer claiming a penalty. The ref booked him either for diving or being late on the keeper. The wide-man was smiling a minute later when he got on the end of a cross from Vermijl to score with a long finish.

The momentum now swung towards the home side but Spurs did not give up as Obika got through to fire wide. When the ball was not cleared in another attack Carroll drove in a shot that was deflected wide. Bentaleb had an effort that was off target, and a cross to the far post by Kane was met first time by McEvoy only to hit the side netting.

Kane fired a free kick over, following a foul on Ceballos by Ekangamene as he was going through the middle.

United got the ball in the right corner moving it around until they created an opening finding Cole's run for him to turn the ball into the far side of the goal. With two minutes of normal time remaining there was little time for the visitors to respond. Kane found Fredericks on the right and his cross was headed wide by Obika and as Spurs pushed players forward, Januzaj made a break that was stopped by Carroll unfairly and the Spurs midfielders name went into the referee's book. The home side held on until the final whistle to win the game and the title.

So Spurs fell at the last hurdle having been clear winners of the Elite group. This new format gave Manchester United a second bite of the cherry which they took. It's like finishing fourth and not getting into the champions league. While Spurs played some fine passing football United were strong and defended well making the best of the chances that came their way.

Kane made a good return to the side although the formation changed a little to suit him. The busy schedule has seen some of our U-18 academy players being blooded in this league, gaining experience at this level which should benefit them in the coming years. Kane and Pritchard have been included in Peter Taylor's provisional U-20 World Cup squad which is just reward for their fine season.


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