In the thirteenth round of matches of the 2017/2018 PL2 Division One campaign, Terry Westley’s West Ham United Development Squad make the tricky trip North to face off with Rick Sbragia’s Manchester United in what is set to be an intriguing affair.
The hosts were last in action before the Christmas break, drawing 1-1 at home to Leicester City in the League, while the visiting Hammers have not played since the very start of December when they went down 4-0 away at Luton Town in the Checkatrade Trophy, balancing the scales nicely for an even matchup.
The clash is scheduled to take place tonight (Monday 8 December 2018), with a kick-off time of 7 PM GMT and live Television coverage being provided by Manchester United Football Club TV.
If you don’t have a subscription to that Service, unfortunately, no Radio commentary is available to listen to either, but if you head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter, you can be sure to find live build-up, updates and reaction from Manchester.
The visit of the young Irons will be held at the young Red Devils’ usual home Stadium of Leigh Sports Village, a Sports and Housing Development situated in Greater Manchester.
The Ground has a capacity of just over 12,000 and has also hosted Rugby Test Matches, Rugby Challenge Cup Semi-Finals and Rugby World Cup ties, whilst tonight will be the second time that West Ham have visited, previously losing 3-2 in April 2015.
United Boss Sbragia is expected have a near fully-fit Squad at his disposal for the vital clash, meaning that he can showcase some of the brightest talents that England has to offer in his starting Xl.
This could include the likes of striker James Wilson, defender Joe Riley, fellow defensive option Demetri Mitchell and occasional first-team midfielders Tosin Kehinde and Scott McTominay, while goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara is set for a solid outing between the sticks.
Meanwhile, Hammers Manager Westley has lost many of his young charges to David Moyes’ Senior Squad in times more recent, but will have the added boost of Marcus Browne, Vashon Neufville and Alex Pike returning from injury.
Long-termers Dan Kemp, Nathan Holland, Noha Sylvestre and Josh Pask remained side-lined, and key Spanish forward Antonio Martinez is a doubt after featuring against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup on Sunday, Skipper Moses Makasi could feature despite being on the bench for that clash.
The Development Squads of Manchester United and West Ham United have met seven times in this decade with the first meeting coming during the 2010/2011 season.
The overall record makes for grave viewing for any member of the Claret & Blue Army with the North-West club recording five victories in that time, the Irons winning just once, and the spoils also being shared on just one occasion.
However, the last time that this pair squared off with each other, the result would be a huge contradiction to the way things had flowed in the past with this evening’s visitors claiming a memorable 4-2 triumph.
They achieved this with thanks to a Toni Martinez hat-trick and strike from full-back Joe Powell after United have led twice through two notches from Mitchell on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the London Stadium with just over 1,00 in attendance.
Manchester United, one of the most recognisable Football Clubs in the history of the game, are credited with having one of the most sophisticated and successful youth and Academy systems in world Football.
Perhaps their most famous crop of players are known as “The Class of 92” and include such club greats as David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes, while more recent products have included Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford.
Trophy-wise, the U23s and the U21s they replaced have flourished over the years, winning three PDL League 1 Titles in the modern era, and staggeringly, have picked up 27 Manchester senior Cups and 15 Lancashire Senior Cups, amongst many other honours.
Nowadays, under former Sunderland Manager Ricky Sbragia and in contrast to Jose Mourinho’s United first-team, the Reserves are struggling, currently, at the foot of the Premier league 2 Division One Table, 11th place, having only picked up 11 points, one team are below in Tottenham Hotspur.
So, now that the Leigh Sports Village Stadium scene has been well and truly set for an entertaining night of PL2 action, can the hosts claim a pivotal three points in the relegation battle?
Or, will Westley’s visitors get back to winning ways with their first since October and continue their quest to finish in the top four in their first Division One campaign? Think you know? Head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter to cast your last-minute score predictions and join the pre-match discussion.