James Weir’s second-half equaliser ensured that Manchester United’s under-21s came away with a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford tonight.
A healthy crowd turned up at the Theatre of Dreams to support Warren Joyce’s men, and they would have been pleased with the players on show. Ashley Young made his return up after nearly three months out with a groin injury while Phil Jones partnered Ro-Shaun Williams in the heart of defence in another return from injury.
However, it was a fairly peculiar line-up for United on a whole, with seven defenders in the side. Donald Love and Paddy McNair sat in front of Jones and Williams. Guillermo Varela was moved up into the right-wing with Riley playing behind him at right-back.
United started brightly, but they fell behind 20 minutes in, after Josimar Quintero was brought down by McNair on the edge of the United area. Kasey Palmer stepped and dispatched a lovely free-kick past Sam Johnstone, stunning the crowd.
The Blues could have easily had a second on the stroke of half-time, with Ola Aina striking a dipping effort off the crossbar. United looked disjointed during the first half and it was no surprise, considering the line-up.
But they came out of the tunnel for the second half with renewed purpose and should have had a penalty just before the hour mark. Young got in behind before he was barged off the ball by Fikayo Tomori, but the complaints fell on deaf ears.
United soon had their equaliser though. Varela played the ball into Weir and the captain’s shot deflected past Mitchell Beeney in the Chelsea goal. The Reds were in the ascendancy, and they could have had another minutes later, with Weir’s header blocked by Beeney.
The Reds could have won it in the final minute, but Ashley Young’s header went straight at Beeney after a great cross from Riley on the right. All in all, it was a good contest, and a draw was a fair result for both sides.