YOUTH REPORT: MANCHESTER UNITED 1 CHELSEA 0
Our Under-18s were unfortunate to lose a league game they controlled for large periods, a mistake at the back late on leading to a decisive own goal.
Playing at the Trafford Training Centre on Saturday afternoon, the home team had a better second half after a Chelsea side starting with three schoolboys had been on top before the interval although chances to score were few.
Four of the players saw action in last weekend's NextGen tournament finals and goalkeeper Ben Killip was also in the squad in Como.
A good run and pass through the middle looked to have set up the first shooting chance of the game for Ruben Loftus-Cheek but he was crowded out. On quarter of an hour Ambrose Gnahore did test Man United on a counter-attack but his shot was too close to keeper Jonathan Sutherland. Killip then made a comfortable save from Jack Rudge
Alex Davey (pictured) tried his luck from over 30 yards but the shot was too high and wide, and the tall captain was in action at the other end just beyond the half-hour mark when he retreated quickly to cut out a dangerous-looking cross.
Just before half-time, debutant Kasey Palmer was brought down receiving the ball back-to-goal by Rudge. The Man United player was shown the game's first caution.
Nortei Nortey came on at half-time which meant a shuffle of positions down the left. Man United made two changes and they had an effect.
On 50 minutes one of the subs, Sam Byrne, had his team's best chance so far when he ran in behind the central defence onto a pass but Killip pulled off a very sharp diving save.
Just before the hour Chelsea centre-forward Chike Kandi volleyed a bouncing ball over after a free-kick was only half cleared by the Man United defence.
Palmer's debut came to an end on 65 minutes when he was replaced by Tom Howard and Ambrose Gnahore unfortunately sliced wide after a Chelsea move from deep in our half involving half the team.
It was Man United's turn to gain the upper hand for a spell that led to the goal. First they managed to get behind the Chelsea back line on the right and a low ball across goal was touched onto the post by the toe of the stretching Byrne.
On 81 minutes the home side took the lead. Chelsea were shepherding the ball back having dispossessed a Man U attack but Killip had the misfortune to kick air when Nortey passed back and the ball bobbled in for an own-goal by the outfielder.
The Chelsea keeper enjoyed a far better moment with a strong save at his near post from Byrne who had made a notable difference to the Man U attack since coming on.
Man U midfielder Ben Pearson was booked for foul on Howard before Chelsea tested Sutherland twice, with shots from Kandi and Howard.
Killip again acquitted himself well to keep out Mats Daehli. The kicking error had been the one blemish on his display. There was one opportunity for an equaliser in stoppage time when George Cole hit a shot well but unfortunately it was always bending away from the target.
'It was a top-level youth team game,' said manager Adi Viveash.
'Man United were a lot older than us, it was near enough their Youth Cup team, and there were some good individual performances. Alex Davey and Ola Aina at the back were very prominent and there was a high-level midfield battle with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Kasey Palmer making his debut and Charlie Colkett against their three who are all very good players. They would have learnt a lot from that.
'Palmer has joined us from Charlton on schoolboy forms and he is an exciting player who did well against us in the Youth Cup. He hasn't really trained for two weeks apart from a couple of days this week so to last 65 minutes at the intensity and quality he showed was pleasing.'
'I just thought we needed a little more quality in the final third, we created some good chances and didn't quite take them.
'It is easy to look at the individual mistake but Ben made three or four really top saves second half and he should not be too displeased. It is difficult when you are a goalkeeper and make a mistake because there is no-one behind you. He has to learn from it and take it on the chin and he made a good save after it so he didn't let it affect him.
'We are disappointed with the result but I got a lot out of it including players I needed to play before the Youth Cup match on Friday, and a few gave me food for thought.'
Chelsea Ben Killip; Ola Aina, Jonathan Muleba, Alex Davey (c), Kevin Wright (Nortei Nortey h-t); Kasey Palmer (Tom Howard 65), Charlie Colkett (Dominic Solanke 82), Ruben Loftus-Cheek; George Cole, Chike Kandi, Ambrose Gnahore.