Manchester United U18 4-1 Blackburn Rovers U18
Scorer(s): Lee O’Connor ’18, Tyrell Warren ’33, Angel Gomes ’38, Aidan Barlow ’64 – Mason Fawns, ’83
#mufc XI: Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui; George Tanner, Jake Kenyon, Tyrell Warren, Lee O’Connor; Callum Whelan, DJ Buffonge (Nishan Burkart, ’59), Ethan Hamilton, Tahith Chong (Aidan Barlow, ’59), Angel Gomes (Callum Gribbin, ’59), Indy Boonen
Blackburn Rovers XI: Ben Ascroft; Andrew Jackson, Lewis Thompson, Jack Evans, Matthew Makinson, Tyler Magloire, Tre Pemberton, Mason Fawns, Daniel Butterworth (Joel Steer, ’66), Bradley Lunch (Ben Williams, ‘HT), Callum Hendry (Charley Doyle, ‘HT).
Manchester United under-18s took their unbeaten spell to five as they hit four past Blackburn Rovers, previously unbeaten in seven consecutive games. The quartet of strikes saw this young side outdo last season’s goal tally of the whole Northern U18 Premier League after only 11 games. Callum Gribbin returned from a three-month spell on the sidelines due to injury, playing more than 30 minutes as a substitute.
Defenders Lee O’Connor, one of the most consistently excellent players in the current academy set-up, and Tyrell Warren scored their first goals for United at this level. Angel Gomes made it three without response from Kieran McKenna’s side after only 38 minute.
Ethan Hamilton pounced on a punch for Rovers goalkeeper Ben Ascroft after a corner. The Scotsman, who earned his debut for his country’s under-19 side recently, moved to the byline and delivered an excellent cutback to O’Connor who tapped in from one yard out.
O’Connor provided a well-weighted delivery to Warren 15 minutes later, doubling United’s lead with an accurate header. Gomes initiated an attack with a no-look pass, drove forward to receive the ball from DJ Buffonge and finished with composure past Ascroft to all but seal the victory.
Substitute Aidan Barlow made it four, escaping any attention in the penalty area as a corner came in. He simply touched it in to wrap up the game, although another aerial error from Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui allowed Blackburn to grab a late consolation goal.
McKenna’s Reds are now second behind Manchester City, although their rivals have two games-in-hand, while Liverpool have one, sitting behind United in third. Although United aren’t top, the transformation from last season is remarkable. Last year saw United struggling at the bottom of the U18 Premier League North, now McKenna is blessed with some of the finest young attackers in the country in DJ Buffonge, Nishan Burkart, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes.