Manchester United U18s v Everton U18s
Everton Under-18s' league ambitions were dealt a cruel blow at Manchester United on Saturday, as a last gasp 2-1 defeat denied them of a point on their travels.
In a top-of-the-table clash, Kevin Sheedy's young Blues headed to the Aon Training complex and recovered well from Andreas Pereira's penalty when George Green converted his own spot-kick inside the final 10 minutes.
But a Red Devils counter in injury time resulted in Sean Goss' winner and enabled the Mancunians to overtake Everton into the top spot of the Premier League North Group.
The game started frantically, but the Blues began to find a rhythm and looked the most likely to break the deadlock in the opening exchanges.
However, it was Manchester United who opened the scoring on 23 minutes after Pereira was brought down after a challenge from Curtis Langton, and the 17-year-old Belgian midfielder made no mistake from the spot.
The Blues came out fighting in the second period, and George Green’s deliveries from set pieces were causing havoc in the United penalty area.
Clear chances remained at a premium for both sides, but it was Green who almost found Everton’s equaliser. After cutting in from the right, the England Under-18 international unleashed a powerful curling effort to force a good save from goalkeeper Joel Pereira.
At the other end, Russell Griffiths was called into action after a shot from Joshua Harrop was heavily deflected – the goalkeeper got down smartly to prevent the ball from nestling into the bottom corner.
Michael Donohue was introduced with just over ten minutes remaining and the change proved to be an inspired one.
After tenacious work to dispossess Devonte Redmond, the midfielder broke quickly into the United half and picked out Courtney Duffus, who was eventually bundled over in the box.
Captain Green side-footed the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal to register his eighth league goal of the season and level the game at 1-1.
Everton’s tails were up, and they were unfortunate not to snatch another goal almost immediately after when Donohue again caused problems down the right. His cross found an unmarked Tyrone Duffus whose effort went agonisingly wide.
The young Blues were made to rue that miss when the hosts went down the other end with just one minute remaining and found a winner through Goss.
Griffiths reacted well to deny James Wilson initially, but Goss was on hand to smash home the rebound and seal a 2-1 victory for United.
The circumstances of the defeat were difficult to take and Sheedy told evertonfc.com: "I am very disappointed, especially to lose in the manner that we did.
"The lads gave it everything, especially in the second half, and managed to equalise after United had gone ahead in the first.
"It was a good run from Courtney and a clever pass from Michael Donoghue. Then George has put the penalty away.
"But we then conceded very late on. Russell Griffiths has made a good save but the ball has fallen straight to a United player and to be fair to him he has finsihed well.
"But we certainly didn’t deserve to lose the game.
"That happens in football sometimes. We have to take it on the chin and bounce back. We will work hard in training on putting this result right when we play Newcastle next Saturday."