Manchester United u17 4-1 MSK Zilina
Scorer(s): Harry Spratt (’44), D’Mani Mellor (’54), Tahith Chong (’65), Ethan Laird (’87) – Alechandro (’19)
#mufc XI: 1 Fojtiček, 2 O´Connor (15 Laird, ’60), 3 Spratt, 4 Barrett (14 Ercolani, ’78), 5 Dunne, 6 Levitt, 7 Tanner, 8 Barlow, 9 Chong (C), 10 McGhee (18 Garner, ’60), 11 Mellor (20 Greenwood, ’60).
Despite conceding first, Kieran McKenna’s Manchester United under-17 side finished comfortable winners in Slovakia in front of a good crowd.
Tahith Chong captained a side with a combination of under-15s, under-16s, and under-18s.
MSK took the lead after 19 minutes due to poor defending from United, looking shaky in the opening stages. Alechandro strode through two defenders before curling it around Slovakian goalkeeper Alex Fojtiček to give the home side a deserved lead.
United responded well to conceding, however. Late in the half after a number of chances, most notably a header for Jake Barrett, left-back Harry Spratt equalised for United. Lee O’Connor, the Republic of Ireland under-17 captain, did well to jump a challenge on the edge of the area before crossing. D’Mani Mellor and his marker missed the header, allowing Spratt to snatch in and tap it home, although his first, accidental kneed effort struck the left post.
After the break, United came out strongly. Captain Tahith Chong showed the breathtaking quality he has with the ball at his feet, his close control remarkable even at these early stages of his career, on the right flank. Despite being pulled back by his marker, Chong continued and cut inside to the penalty area from the byline on the right-side before pulling it back to D’Mani Mellor who struck home, the ball hitting the goalkeeper before nestling in the back of the net.
A few minutes later, Mellor came off alongside Dion McGhee and Lee O’Connor for the triplet of right-back Ethan Laird, striker Mason Greenwood, and midfielder James Garner.
Laird has only been on the pitch for three minutes when he set up a goal for Chong. Storming down the same right-flank Chong has minutes earlier, fed through by George Tanner, Laird cut it back for the Dutch forward who finished easily over an outstretched defender’s leg.
United were threatened very little in the second half, even after taking a two-goal advantage. Instead, they continued to push forward. Italian defender Luca Ercolani replaced Jake Barrett with just over 10 minutes to go.
Ethan Laird got a goal himself with just three minutes remaining, hammering into the roof of the net for United’s fourth.
A whole host of substitutes followed after that final goal of the afternoon with new signing Yeboah Amankwah, Jean Belehouan, Brandon Williams, and Jayden Reid all coming on.