Friendly: Salford City 3-3 Manchester United U21s
Salford City: Danny Webber (54), Matt Chadwick (71), Sam Madeley (88)
United U21s: Ashley Fletcher (8), James Weir (37), Josh Harrop (50)
Warren Joyce's Manchester United lads were back in action on Monday evening just seven weeks after completing their Barclays Under-21 Premier League campaign against Manchester City at Etihad Campus.
The Reds’ Under-21 coach took his charges on a relatively short journey into Trafford's neighbouring borough to take on Salford City in the opening warm-up match ahead of the forthcoming 2015/16 league season.
Salford City are the ambitious club that former United stars Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers, Gary and Phil, are backing in a bid to put their home (and in some cases adopted) city on the football map. The five former Reds between them are 50 per cent owners of the club, which last season gained promotion to the Northern Premier League, a status that puts them firmly at the seventh level of the pyramid in the English game.
Their home ground at Moor Lane in the Kersal district of Salford is reputedly one of the oldest sports arenas in the area and was once the headquarters of Manchester Rugby Union Football Club, who now play their matches at Bramhall, a fair old distance away to the south of the city.
Rain had been falling for most of the day and showed little sign of relenting as the match started with United wearing the change strip of white shirts and black shorts so as not to clash with Salford’s red and white. Luke Giverin, formerly with United, started for Salford while Sadiq El Fitouri, once of Salford, was in United’s line-up.
The game began slowly with neither side showing much adventure but then, in the 8th minute, Salford captain Chris Lynch was adjudged to have brought down Ashley Fletcher. The Reds striker was unscathed from the incident and was quickly back on his feet to blast the spot-kick past goalkeeper Jay Lynch.
Salford centre-forward Sam Livesey had a great chance to grab the equaliser after taking the ball round Joel Pereira, but his shot narrowly missed the target. Shelton Payne also went close for the hosts on the half-hour when his well struck free-kick thudded against the upright.
United doubled the lead eight minutes before the break when James Weir fired home from close range to send his side in at the break 2-0 up.
The Reds looked to have put the game beyond Salford’s reach in the early moments of the second half after Josh Harrop had scored his side’s third goal with a fine curling shot. But Salford had other ideas and strikes from former Reds forward Danny Webber and then Matt Chadwick put the home side right back in the game.
Finally, with barely two minutes remaining, Sam Madeley hit the target with a low shot to level the scores and claim a deserved draw for Salford.
Salford: J.Lynch, Smalley, Dean, Stopforth, C.Lynch, O'Halloran, Payne, Giverin, Livesey, Hulme, Hancock
United: J.Pereira, Varela, Love, Borthwick-Jackson, El-Fitouri, Pearson, Rothwell (Reid 72), Fosu-Mensah, Fletcher, Harrop (Redmond 60), Weir. Subs not used: O’Hara (Gk), Mitchell, Riley.