september 12, 2022
Cliffhanger! Young Robins pipped at the post but turn on the style at United's old training ground
Manchester United U-18s 3
Altrincham Reserves 2 (Billingsley 36, Jones 76)
Altrincham fielded a team made up of players from the first-team, Reserves, Academy and Youth squads for a behind-closed-doors game against Manchester United under-18s at The Cliff.
Altrincham started really well in possession and didn't seem to be fazed by playing at a venue that hosted some legendary names as United's main training ground, prior to the club switching to a new complex in Carrington.
Owen German and Harlan Rodgers-Morris were excellent in midfield, giving Dion Bohe, Sharif Islam and Loui Williams plenty of the ball.
Altrincham created several chances as the half went on and looked just as solid out of possession, with a back four or Liam Brockbank, Josh Jordan, Liam Evans and Ewan McGeady holding firm.
Their impressive start was duly rewarded when Lewis Billingsley reacted first to a save from a Williams effort, giving Altrincham a deserved lead going into the break.
In the second half, both sides made lots of changes, but it made no difference to the quality on show, with both teams continuing to produce some excellent football.
United gave Junior Bopde lots of work to do early on in the half, with the Robins keeper equal to the challenge and producing a few great saves.
Ryan Morton had a couple of great opportunities to increase the visitors' lead, but United's goalkeeper was in fine form.
United equalised with a great passing move and finish into the top corner, but this did not deter the young Altrincham side, who soon regained the lead when Tom Jones unleashed a ferocious strike into the top corner from 25 yards. Late on, 16-year old Lucas Alcroft and 17-year old Mike Comber made their senior debuts for the club.
The tables were turned near the end, as United underlined their elite quality with two goals in the final five minutes, but what a great experience it was for the young Robins.
"The coaching staff at the club talk a lot about the player pathway and development from youth to first team, and tonight epitomised that," said Reserves boss Ross Speight. "It was a real mix of players from different squads coming together to represent the club so well on and off the pitch - the players were a credit to themselves and the club.
"The great work that Paul Fay and Sara Newton put in with the youth players was clear to see tonight, from the way the younger players performed to the standards they showed off the pitch, too.
"It was great to see how my coaches Danny Jarrett and Max Pouncey helped me link up the senior players with the Academy players to play so well against a world-class Academy. It was also great to have Matty Kosylo join the coaching staff and taking time with the younger players.
"Wednesday was such a great success on so many levels, and I hope we can link up with Manchester United again this season."