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Man Utd U-21s v Spurs U-21s, 29.08.12
Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List
[e-mail Ray Lo]


         FA Premier U-21 Reserve League
      Altrincham FC, Moss Lane, Altrincham
        Wednesday 29th August 2012, 7pm

       MANCHESTER UTD. v     SPURS 
         (Red/Black)      (All White)
           4-1-4-1           4-4-2

            2(1)              0(1)

    Anders Lindegaard  1 Jordan Archer
     Scott wootton(C)  2 Adam Smith
    Alexander Buttner  3 Natan Byrne
          Jonny Evans  4 Grant Hall
        Michael Keane  5 Steven Caulker
      Darren Fletcher  6 Tom Carroll
         Robert Brady  7 Yago Falque
     Ryan Tunnicliffe  8 Ryan Mason(C)
          Joshua King  9 Jonathan Obika
          Nick Powell 10 Harry Kane
    Frederico Macheda 11 Andros Townsend

         Larnell Cole 12 Cristian Ceballos
          (11)64Mins.    (11)69Mins.
  Jonathan Sutherland 13 Lawrence Vigouroux
        Jesse Lingard 14 Kevin Stewart
           (7)59Mins.    (5)69Mins.
           Tom Thorpe 15 Milos Veljkovic
           (9)82Mins.    (4)46Mins.
      Frederic Veseli 16 

Scorers:-
      Macheda 2, pen.49  Mason pen.79

Booked:-
                         Hall 26(Foul)

Coach:-
      W. Joyce           T. Sherwood

Attendance:- 571

Referee:- D. Meeson
Assistants:- M. Cunliffe & P. Gibbons
Fourth Official  P. Best
It was a warm evening for this game which was well supported with a good sized crowd. I was joined by Spursodyssey's Paul Smith and Fergie was was there to watch his lads. Both sides had players with first team experience. None more so than United's Fletcher who has recovered from a career threatening injury and sat in front of the back four. There were a few changes from the supplied teamsheet with Macheda starting the game up front. Macheda had been scehduled to start on the bench, but became the game-changer.

Spurs lined up with Caulker and Hall in front of Archer with Smith at right back and Byrne on the left. Carroll and Mason started in the centre of midfield with Falque on the right flank and Townsend on the left. Kane and Obika started up front. This was a stronger line-up than we had for the opening game at Newcastle, where I understand Dawson and Huddlestone withdrew at short notice.

Spurs kicked off attacking the Golf Road end, but to get a feel of the ball they cycled it around until Hall squared it to Caulker across the back. Caulker facing his goal did not see Tunnicliffe who dived in to win the ball which ran to Macheda. The Italian had a clear run on Archer who did well to hold him up until saving his attempt on goal. As luck would have it the ball rebounded against Caulker, who had got back, and looped into the back of the net. This was hard on young Caulker but it has happened to Ledley before, so he is in good company.

Strangely United did not seek to press home their advantage and sat back with nine men behind the ball allowing Spurs to play the ball around two thirds of the pitch before challenging. They were happy to defend in depth waiting for a turnover but attacked in numbers at pace using the width of the field.

The packed defence made it difficult for Spurs who began to try shots from distance with Falque drawing a save from Lindegaard. Kane saw his header deflected for a corner.

Hall was booked for stopping Brady getting away down the right while Townsend was getting the better of new signing Buttner at the other end providing a number of crosses. Obika released him down the left and he came inside but fired wide. After Carroll fired over, Kane had an effort saved from a Byrne centre. Macheda held the ball up before playing in King for a shot that was well over. Tunnicliffe also had an effort fly over before Mason saw his effort clear the bar.

Spurs replaced Hall with Veljkovic at the start of the second half with both sides continuing from where they finished the first. Townsend got down the left and put in a cross that Wootton had to clear off the line. The reds sought to catch Spurs napping with an early raid, with Macheda playing in Powell on the left. Smith tried to bundled him off the ball but conceded a penalty which Macheda took, sending Archer the wrong way.

With a two goal lead United felt confident to play with two up front and went looking for more goals with Macheda drawing a save from Archer. Being more advanced allowed more space for the Spurs midfield which led to a short ball into the area that Obika turned on, firing in a shot which Lindegaard saved, recovering quickly to save the follow up from Kane who was flagged for offside.

Spurs began to string more passes together producing some good approach play but not getting the final telling ball. Obika fired wide before a cross from Townsend was headed back by Kane at the far post for Obika to draw a save from the keeper.

Both sides made changes with Sherwood taking off Townsend for Ceballos, and putting Stewart on for Caulker. Lindegaard saved from Kane and King fired wide before Spurs were awarded a penalty. Kane was slipped in on the left but was fouled by Wootton as he attacked the six yard box. Mason scored from the spot low to the keeper's left.

Tunnicliffe fired a free kick wide before Ceballos put his effort wide. Ceballos slipped a short pass through for Obika but Lindegaard was out quickly to beat him to the ball. United held out for the win that sees them top Group two.

This was not a dominating Manchester United victory as they were very cagey. They looked dangerous when they attacked in numbers but sat back for a long period of the game when we played pretty if not very effective football in the middle of the park. When the transfer window closes and if Dawson and Huddlestone are still at the club then I hope that they will be willing to play as their experience would be helpful. Dawson's strength would have quelled Macheda and Huddlestone may have provided more telling balls to open up the defence for Kane and Obika.

The next U-21 game is on Saturday morning at Spurs Lodge when the visitors will be Sunderland. They will be followed by Stoke City on the 17th September, possibly at the Lodge as well.

Ray

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