Barclays U-21 Premier League
Moss Lane, Altrincham
MANCHESTER UNITED 3
(Lingard 3, Cole 70, Veseli 89)
(Sinclair 62,66, Curtis 95)
United U21 3 Saints U21 3
Leaders United had to settle for a point against Southampton in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League after a 3-3 draw.
Warren Joyce’s side scored through Jesse Lingard, Larnell Cole and Frederic Veseli but Jake Sinclair, brother of Manchester City’s Scott, netted two headers and Joe Curtis snatched a draw with virtually the last kick of the game.
In front of the watching Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the former Reserves boss and current Molde manager, Joshua King soon tricked his way into the box following a Ryan Tunnicliffe flick and laid the ball back for Lingard. The midfielder’s shot deflected off Matt Young and past Artur Boruc for a rapid breakthrough.
After Bebe shot wide in his first appearance at this new level, Boruc had to keep the Saints in the game. The former Celtic keeper made a splendid stop to thwart Bebe following a lightning break started by Lingard and fuelled by Tunnicliffe’s turbo-charged run.
King muscled his way past Jack Stephens but shot too closely to Boruc and the Pole pushed away a stinging drive by Lingard after a spell of dominant possession by United. At the other end, Pierluigi Gollini was not extended in the first half on his first start at this level.
The Italian comfortably fielded attempts by Sinclair and Ben Reeves while Reeves and Steve De Ridder smashed over the bar as the visitors ensured the lead was a slender one going into the interval. Indeed, the Saints dominated play in the second half – even if United mustered the occasional threat.
Captain Tom Thorpe volleyed at Boruc from a corner and Lingard floated a bold curling drive onto the top of the net after Bebe won possession with a tackle inside his own half. But there could be no begrudging Southampton’s equaliser as United appeared to switch off, allowing De Ridder to easily feed Reeves and the creative midfielder’s deep cross was nodded in by Sinclair. There was a suggestion the goalscorer was climbing on the back of Tyler Blackett but worse was to follow a few minutes later.
Luke Shaw delivered an inviting centre from the left and Sinclair rose again to despatch another header past Gollini to turn things around. It prompted the right response from the home side as Cole strode forward to play a perfect one-two with Lingard and finish clinically with his right foot. It was a goal that would not have looked out of place at a much higher level.
After all the excitement, things dampened down somewhat until the dramatic finale. King blazed over when he had better options, including Tunnicliffe unmarked to his left, but the Norwegian made the right decision in the 89th minute when his pace took him clear on the flank. King looked up to intelligently pick out Veseli at the far post and the Swiss substitute buried a volley past Boruc for his first United goal.
Lingard almost added a fourth after being slipped through by Cole’s pass as the classy pair combined again but that would have been extremely harsh on Southampton, who instead had one final roll of the dice when Curtis’ speculative effort from outside the box somehow found its way past Gollini’s outstretched hand and entered the net via a post.
United: Gollini; Wootton, M.Keane, Fornasier, Blackett (McGinty 67); Bebe (Veseli 78), Thorpe, Cole, Tunnicliffe, Lingard; King (James 93). Subs not used: J.Pereira, Hendrie.