Barclays Under-18 Premier League
London Colney, St Albans
James Wilson’s brilliant second-half solo goal was sufficient to seal a hard-fought victory for Manchester United’s Under-18s away to Arsenal on Saturday.
The Reds striker, who scored on his England Under-19 debut in midweek, was unstoppable as he slalomed his way through the Gunners’ defence before sliding the ball home past keeper Mathew Macey. It was a wonderful example of close control and sheer determination that enabled Wilson to take on the home defenders single-handed.
United had gone behind in the 16th minute at London Colney, after what appeared to be a harsh penalty decision after Chuba Akpom had gone down in the area.
The same player was quickly on his feet to take the spot-kick, which Dean Henderson did well to save, but the ball fell straight at the feet of Alex Iwobi who gleefully stroked home the opener.
Arsenal may have slightly had the best of it in the early stages but the young Reds gradually eased their way back in and on the half hour they got their reward.
Wilson, who was a thorn in the Gunners’ side throughout, provided the assist and Ashley Fletcher claimed the finish.
There were chances at both ends throughout the game starting with Wilson’s rattling of the Gunners’ woodwork in the opening minutes to Josh Harrop’s near miss just seconds from the end.
Arsenal always looked dangerous when approaching Henderson’s domain but they couldn’t find the finishing touch to some impressive build-up play.
Hardly surprisingly, it was a typical keenly contested tussle between these two great clubs, which United edged thanks to Wilson’s wonderful winner.
United: Henderson; Evans, McConnell, Ioannou, Barber; Harrop, Goss (Riley 46), Willock, Redmond; Fletcher, Wilson. Subs not used: Borthwick-Jackson, J Pereira (Gk), Mitchell, Thompson.