Northern Ireland 0-1 Man Utd

Scorer(s): Nishan Burkart ‘9

Northern Ireland XI: C Larkin; Toal, R Larkin, Crane; Brown, McKenna, Burns; Lawlor, Scannell; Reynolds, Roscoe.
Man Utd XI: Richardson; O’Connor, Dunne, Barrett, Williams; Garner, Whelan (C); McGhee, Baars; Greenwood, Burkart.

A fantastic 9th-minute half-volley from Swiss striker Nishan Burkart saw Man United’s under-18s triumph over Northern Ireland in a Challenge Match at SuperCupNI (formerly the Milk Cup).

With the famous and prestigious tournament, one that Man Utd have a great history in, kicking off on Sunday, the Reds were hosted in a well attended Challenge Match at Coleraine Showgrounds. It’s thought that United’s youngsters were welcomed by more than 2,000 fans.

Left-back Brandon Williams, who signed a scholarship deal this summer as he was promoted from the under-16s, thoroughly impressed. Talented striker Mason Greenwood was called up from the under-16s, having been the only member of that younger squad to travel to Austria for the reserves & under-18s pre-season training camp. During that camp, he scored a hat-trick in a friendly. Millen Baars, signed from Ajax seven months ago, has finally been granted international clearance and impressed on the wing.

But it was captain Callum Whelan, the midfielder who didn’t miss a single minute of U18 Premier League football last season, who made United’s only goal. Receiving a cutback from Lee O’Connor, Whelan waited, delivered a ball into space in the area and Burkart let the cross come across his body and struck it on the half-volley past Larkin.

Northern Ireland threatened, particularly as Bobby Burns thundered a shot off the crossbar as space opened up. Jake Barrett allowed Reynolds an opportunity to equalise as he swung and missed a cross, but the Northern Irishman couldn’t capitalise.

Despite that, it was United playing the best football, with the most success. Playing in midfield, James Garner was key to patient build-up play, his vision showing itself. The Reds’ new signings impressed, with Dishon Bernard strong in the tackle after coming off the bench. Ethan Galbraith was unavailable in his home country, while goalkeeper Jacob Carney missed out on the trip through injury.