Peterborough 2 United XI 0
A youthful United XI were beaten 2-0 by Championship side Peterborough in a pre-season friendly at London Road.
Second-half goals from George Boyd and former Old Trafford youngster Nicky Ajose were enough to clinch victory for Posh even if another tough work-out will benefit many of the players likely to either be involved at Under-21 level next term or head out on loan for league action.
Sam Johnstone had to be alert to repel Grant McCann’s near-post free-kick early on but the Reds started to gel with captain Davide Petrucci often looking to link up with lone striker Federico Macheda. Nick Powell’s ambitious shot wide was the first real effort of note from Warren Joyce’s side but, cheered on by a noisy away following, the football started to flow with Larnell Cole displaying some sublime touches.
Yet Posh came closest to scoring on the half-hour mark when Lee Tomlin’s clever disguised pass allowed Joe Newell to fire just wide. Substitute keeper Joe Day, on for Robert Olejnik, saw Jesse Lingard’s right-foot shot ripple the side-netting before the hosts finished the half marginally stronger. Grant McCann had a couple of attempts, a dipping drive into Johnstone’s arms and a speculative volley off target, while Tom Thorpe made an excellent sliding block to divert Jonson Clarke-Harris’ shot behind for a corner.
A much-changed Peterborough line-up came out of the blocks quickly after the restart with Tomlin forcing a spectacular tip-over from Johnstone. The keeper then fed Lingard with an excellent pass and the winger burst forward to set up Macheda, but the Italian’s finish from a tight angle failed to trouble Day.
The deadlock was broken on 56 minutes when Michele Fornasier’s stray pass out of defence put the Reds on the back foot and Boyd lashed a deflected shot from distance past Johnstone. Another wayward ball from the centre-back position, by Thorpe, almost gifted a second to Tomlin but he dragged his effort wide.
United tried to mount a response and Macheda found the impressive Cole on the right before hammering the wide man’s cross goalwards, only for Day to dive to his left to pull off a quite magnificent save. Joshua King’s introduction, at the expense of left-back Tyler Blackett, added pace to the attack but Posh were rarely troubled again until the closing few minutes.
Reds Academy product Ajose wrapped up the victory on 82 minutes by calmly beating Johnstone after being set up by Paul Taylor’s astute pass to promote his claims to stay at London Road. Taylor forced Johnstone into more action before the final whistle as Darren Ferguson’s side deserved the triumph in the end, while King failed to provide the finishing touch after a couple of positive runs at the death.
United: Johnstone; Vermijl (Veseli 73), Fornasier, Thorpe, Blackett (King 66); Cole, Tunnicliffe, Petrucci, Powell (Agnaldo 79), Lingard; Macheda. Subs not used: Sutherland, Gladstony, James.