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Manchester United Under-18s made a winning start to their U18 Premier League North campaign with an emphatic 4-0 triumph away at Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon.
The young Reds put in a dominant display at Boro’s Rockliffe Park training ground, with all four of our goals being scored in the first half.
After James Nolan’s early penalty, defenders Reece Munro and Louis Jackson’s booth converted from corners, with their efforts sandwiched either side of a thunderous strike from Ethan Williams – who had a hand in all four goals on the day.
We might have extended our lead further in the second half, with Boro goalkeeper Shea Connor making good saves to deny Williams and second-half substitute Gabriele Biancheri, but United had done more than enough in the first half to make sure of their win.
James Nolan struck our opener from the spot.
FIRST HALF – A PERFECT START
Despite wet and windy conditions in the North East, United raced into the lead after just four minutes.
Goalkeeper Thomas Myles found Nolan on the left flank, who neatly flicked the ball over the top for Williams to chase into the area, and the referee pointed to the spot after he was brought down by opposition stopper Connor.
Nolan placed his effort from 12 yards straight down the middle and high into the net to set the tone for a productive first half.
We could have made it two just moments later, as Williams picked out Munro at the back post from a free-kick wide on the right, but he headed across goal and over. At the other end, Boro almost equalised as Ajay Matthews prodded Jack Pattinson’s inviting low cross wide of the near post.
Munro did score in the 20th minute, again getting on the end of a Williams delivery – this time a corner – at the back post, when his reactive effort was helped in by a touch from Pattinson.
United looked in control with a two-goal cushion under their belt, and started to see chances flow from the half-hour mark onwards, when Moorhouse’s low centre from the right byline found Victor Musa, but he couldn’t adjust his footing to connect with the ball.
Moorhouse then went for goal himself from distance, with his powerful shot stinging the palms of goalkeeper Connor.
Then came the late first-half flurry, as Williams made it three on 39 minutes – with arguably the pick of the goals.
United played it out from the back brilliantly to unleash Scanlon down the right, who fed Moorhouse and he in turn found Williams with a first-time pass. Williams set himself before firing into the top left-hand corner superbly, from just inside the box.
Williams turned provider again two minutes before the break, with the Reds’ set-piece prowess again paying off. Jackson was the man on the end of the in-swinging delivery this time, heading across brilliantly to put us four ahead at the interval.
Reece Munro, one of two defenders to score, plays the ball out from the back.
SECOND HALF – PROFESSIONALLY DONE
Jaydan Kamason replaced Habeeb Ogunneye at the break, and a quieter second half in the way of goals didn’t make for fewer chances for our young Reds in the closing 45 minutes.
Within minutes of the restart, Williams’ threaded pass was inches away from finding Scanlon in behind, but for the quick reactions of Connor coming off his line.
Williams had a free-kick from some way out only moments later, which looked destined for the right-hand corner, but good work from Connor to parry it away again denied him.
Scanlon was next to try his luck, just before the hour, curling marginally wide with his left foot from the edge of the area.
With 60 minutes on the clock, changes began to ensue for both sides – with Gabriele Biancheri, Ashton Missin, Zach Baumann and Jacob Devaney all gaining minutes.
Ethan Williams was involved in all four goals against Middlesbrough.
Williams had a penalty shout waved away just before he was withdrawn, while at the other end, Boro threatened with a handful of efforts from range, with Matthews and Finlay Cartwright curling just off target, while Matthews was well denied by a fingertip Myles save.
United could have added to their lead in the final moments, as Zach Baumann hit just over on the half-volley, and Biancheri curled towards the top corner was kept out by a Connor diving save.
Jackson went close from a corner with almost the final kick of the game, but our work was more than done, as the young Reds enjoyed a deserved triumph on the opening day of their season.
Our young Reds celebrate a fine start to the campaign.
United XI: Myles; Ogunneye (Kamason, 46), Jackson, Munro, Nolan; Fitzgerald (Devaney, 72), McAllister (c); Scanlon, Moorhouse (Missin 61), Williams (Baumann, 72); Musa (Biancheri, 61).
Subs not used: Harrison.
Goals: Nolan 4′ (pen), Munro 20′, Williams 39′, Jackson 43′.
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