Manchester United under-23s suffered defeat at the hands of Everton, led at home by hat-trick scoring striker Nathan Broadhead.

The result sees Everton leapfrog United and move into fourth in Premier League 2.

Young United squad missing Amad, Hannibal and Shoretire

Neil Wood’s under-23s side began the season with a young squad. Manchester United took the decision to loan out the senior figures within the set-up to give them a better chance of securing first-team futures at the club and elsewhere if things didn’t work out.

That decision means Wood is unable to select James Garner, Dylan Levitt, Teden Mengi and Ethan Laird among others. Add the temporary promotion of Shola Shoretire and Amad Diallo to the first team and injuries to Anthony Elanga, Hannibal Mejbri and D’Mani Mellor and the youthfulness of United’s under-23s only increases.

Arnau Puigmal picks up another injury

So it was with dismay that Wood reacted to Arnau Puigmal picking up an injury that forced him off after only 16 minutes. Dillon Hoogewerf, the striker who led the way in last season’s FA Youth Cup, replaced him.

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22: Arnau Puigmal of Manchester United U23s in action during the Premier League 2 match between Everton U23s and Manchester United U23s at Pure Stadium on February 22, 2021 in Southport, England.
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

United began well, driven forward by the trio of Galbraith, Helm and McCann. All three had decent long-shot efforts go agonisingly wide or saved by the goalkeeper. Nevertheless, it was Everton who took the lead.

They threatened to do so after only 13 minutes when Nathan Broadhead failed to meet a good cross from Iversen. After 26 minutes, he’d put them in front. One pass dissected the United defence and Broadhead’s finish, one-on-one with Kovar, was good.

 

Charlie McCann scores second goal of the season

United deserved to draw level before half-time and did so. Charlie McCann drove towards the edge of the box, checked back onto his right foot and struck with perfect connection, watching the ball swerve to the left side of the goal. Everton’s goalkeeper Virginia should have saved it but his hand wasn’t strong enough.

Hoogewerf, the first-half substitute, cracked a brilliant effort soon after the break. He beat his man on the right side of the box and fired it powerfully towards the top corner. Virginia tipped it well onto the crossbar.

It was a bit of a turning point. A couple of minutes later, Broadhead had his second, finishing well across Kovar from inside the box while United’s defenders were asking for handball.

Nathan Broadhead scores hat-trick for Everton

22-year-old Broadhead secured his hat-trick and wrapped the game up for Everton with a simple header. A right-side corner was flicked on and it was so simple for the Everton striker, heading easily into an empty net from only a couple of yards out.

United tried to change the game with the introduction of Charlie McNeill, replacing Joe Hugill, who was making his debuts for United at this level after his recent four-goal haul against City.

The result is not ideal for United but Neil Wood will be pleased with the performance of Ethan Galbraith who has returned to good form recently. The Northern Irishman had a tough time filling in at centre-back but is excelling in his natural position once again.

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