Manchester United U18 3-1 Nottingham Forest U18 (FA Youth Cup Final)
It wasn’t to be for Warren Joyce’s boys who were beaten by Manchester United in an entertaining final, although it was no thanks to a dubious penalty given at Old Trafford in front of a record 67,000 plus crowd.
A bright opening first ten minutes of the match saw chances at each end before a free kick floated in by Sam Murray after a soft foul conceded by Pharrell Johnson, found Rhys Bennett who headed United into the lead.
Forest pushed back their opposition with the lively Dale Taylor’s over head shot saved by Radek Vitek in the Red Devils goal, Justin Hanks then headed over from a Josh Powell corner before Alejandro Garnacho at the other end, broke down the left and fired wide.
Argentine winger Garnacho, the United talisman, looked often to cause the Forest defence problems with persistent menace in possessing a high level of skill and technique, cutting in off the left, he curled a superb effort just inches wide of the posts as the home side looked to double their advantage.
Forest however had the lions share of first half possession and often enjoyed their best football down the right-hand side, Josh Powell combining with Sam Collins before cutting inside to shoot low from outside the area with the ball slipping underneath Vitek for a leveller three minutes before half time.
All tied at the break, it was Forest in yellow and orange looking brightest in the early stages of the second half as the visitors knocked on the door in search of the lead.
Despite Forest’s dominance, United themselves did have chances, Former Barcelona defender Marc Jurado the best of those forcing Aaron Bott to get down low and punch away a powerful shot well saved by the Forest goalkeeper.
Spurred on by their 5,600 travelling army of fans, Forest pressed for goal with some excellent interchanging of the football, captain Jamie McDonnell excellent in the centre of the park, winger Powell always looking to get beyond his man, Taylor & Esapa-Osong giving the United centre backs a tough time, who in return were happy to give it back.
There’s a danger however that you can sometimes over play the football, Forest the root of their own downfall as on 76 minutes the ball played back to Bott in goal who played his pass to Johnson who in return fired a pass to Abbott across his eighteen yard line, that led to Garnacho nipping in and the young centre back fouling him on the edge of the area, in truth it could have been red for the fifteen year-old who turns sixteen only tomorrow, otherwise magnificent on the night, he was played into trouble with attackers bearing down on him as the United forward then beat him to the ball, the Referee adjudging the incident to have taken place inside the box, cameras stating after that it was in actual fact a yard outside the area. Unfortunately, no VAR for such a prestigious final.
Garnacho kept his cool to send Bott the wrong way before celebrating in the corner with a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired celebration that led to the United fans cries of siuuuu.
Forest unlucky to be behind, the goal lifting United into closing out the remaining minutes of the match with Forest pressing to no avail, before an error late on by Hammond was capitalised on by Garnacho who with his own tail up, pinched the ball and jinked in and out before firing home from close range via a deflection to wrap up a win and send the home crowd into raptures.
Defeat aside it was an excellent performance from Forest who’s fans might turn to the 76th minute as the match’s turning point, but United with their influx of overseas talent always looked like they had the killer edge in front of goal.
As celebrations sparked beside the Stretford End the garibaldi players commiserated in front of the Forest travelling supporters that filled the East Stand, a good honest effort by the boys who certainly have potential, some to have very bright futures in the game.
Manchester United: Radek Vitek, Marc Jurado, Rhys Bennett, Louis Jackson, Sam Murray, Robbie Mainoo, Dan Gore, Sam Mather (Sonny Aljofree 86), Isak Hansen (Maximillian Oywdele 64), Alejandro Garnacho, Charlie McNeill (Joe Hugill 64).
Nottingham Forest: Aaron Bott, Ben Hammond, Zach Abbott, Pharrell Johnson, Josh Powell, Justin Hanks (Joe Gardner 81), Jamie McDonnell (Aaron Korpal 90), Sam Collins (Ben Perry 73), Kyle McAdam, Detlef Osong, Dale Taylor.
Venue: Old Trafford (67,492)
*Main image @NFFC Dale Taylor in action against United.