Reading 2-5 Man Utd
Scorer(s): Wallace ’66, Odimayo ’88 – Gribbin ’27, Barlow ’59 (p), ’89, Hamilton ’72, Dearnley ’90+2
Man Utd XI: Richardson; Tanner, Warren, Dunne, Kenyon; Whelan, Hamilon; Gribbin, Barlow, Dearnley; Bohui. KO 11AM.
Man United under 18s dominated and outplayed Reading as they secured a second consecutive win in Merit Group One of the U18 Premier League.
It’s an important win for United who drew 2-2 against both Man City and Liverpool and lost 4-3 to Chelsea, who are running away with the title. United are unlikely to be able to catch them. Kieran McKenna’s side, though, have overtaken Blackburn to move into third place.
Callum Gribbin opened the scoring ahead of a fantastic game for himself. He finished well with his left foot after quick, flowing football from the Reds
That was the only goal of the first half, though Gribbin came close with a curling free-kick.
Angel Gomes, DJ Buffonge, Lee O’Connor and Tahith Chong are all still unavailable meaning players on the fringes have been given more chances in recent weeks.
Aidan Barlow continued his fantastic form in his last game for United before he travels with England under-17s to Croatia for the U17 Euros. It’s his first call-up at this age level for his country, and a deserved one. He netted a 59th minute penalty to extend United’s advantage. He now has nine goals in his last six games at under-18 level.
Aidan Barlow: 19Apps 12Goals
Callum Gribbin: 6A 6G
Ethan Hamilton: 21A 6G
Zak Dearnley: 11A 5G
Jazz Wallace netted a penalty just eight minutes after United’s to open the game up once more.
United responded quickly, though, with Ethan Hamilton, who has been a frequent feature on the scoresheet in the back end of the season, slamming home a 20-yard drive after a lay-off from Gribbin. That was his sixth goal of the season from midfield, having played 21 games.
The end-to-end nature of the goals continued. Reading appeared to have grabbed a vital goal late on, with Odimayo pouncing on a rebound to make it 3-2.
But United ran away with it from there, immediately responding through Barlow again in the 89th minute, cleaning up a parried Josh Bohui shot.
Zak Dearnley gave United a fifth, for the first time January. It’s the sixth time United have netted five times this season, a superb record.
Barlow fed Dearnley the ball and he duly finished for a second goal in two games. From just seven starts, Dearnley has scored five this season with recent injuries giving him a spell in the side.
United now prepare to face Arsenal, a side yet to lose in the U18 Premier League Merit Group One.