Match Reports

Report | Town fall to narrow reverse at Old Trafford


Manchester United 1Lindelof 59

Town 0

It is a mark of how far the Hatters have come – not just in the past ten years – but this season that manager Rob Edwards was disappointed to see his team lose at Old Trafford.

To hear Manchester United supporters whistling, baying, for the full-time whistle as their team hung onto their slender one-goal advantage was another indication of yet another strong performance against one of – if not the – biggest club in the world.

But as the scoreline reflected – and skipper Tom Lockyer said afterwards – good display are all well and good but at some point wins have got to come and, in front of the biggest ever crowd to watch a regular league match in the club’s history, it was another day of ‘what might have been’.

United, struggling for form but clearly a side crammed with elite-level talent, knew they were in a game once that final whistle went. Because – once again – the Town had stayed in this match until the very end.

Coming off the pitch to a raucous reception from their noisy 3,000 supporters, you sensed Edwards and the Town were proud of their display, but in the end one – just one, one moment – was the difference. More on that later.

The Town’s first half showing was typical of their performances this season. Disciplined. Tidy. Resilient. A wall of white shirts stood in United’s way.

Erik ten Hag’s side would go in at the interval frustrated yet it could have been a different story had Rasmus Hojland converted Marcus Rashford’s right-wing cross. Thomas Kaminski’s wonderous reactions earned him a save of the month nomination for a stop at Aston Villa last month. While it did not win him the award, he might for this: the Belgian brilliantly turning away from three yards out.

For all their possession, the home side were not cutting the Hatters open and as a result Edwards’ side grew in confidence. Minute by minute the Town creeped higher up the pitch.

And that resulted in Chiedozie Ogbene having the Town’s first chance – shooting straight at Andre Onana, the Red Devils’ goalkeeper – on 22 minutes.

But 14 minutes later the Hatters were mighty close to leading at the Theatre of Dreams. Issa Kabore flew down the right and his perfect cross was met by a thunderous leaping header from Carlton Morris. For a split-second it looked all the world 1-0 but Onana leapt to his left and a big left hand later and the ball was clear. Andros Townsend followed-up but the goalkeeper was there again.

United passed up the opportunity for the lead five minutes before the break only for Kaminski and Kabore to snuff out the danger and as the half-time whistle went there was cause for optimism for those following the Town.

Early in the second half Hojlund found space in the box but headed wide and the Town, now shooting towards their support in one pocket of Old Trafford, continued to grow in confidence.

Townsend shot over from distance, however, shortly before the hour the Hatters’ good work was undone when United led. A half-cleared corner was recycled by Rashford and, after his low cross was half-cleared, Victor Lindelof was on hand to bash the ball home from eight yards.

Observers might have fancied the Town to roll over. Luton at Old Trafford, here come the goals… Not so. If anything, the Hatters took the game to United. Their passing remained forward-thinking. The only issue was a genuine threat in the final third was missing.

On 72 minutes the Hatters faithful were in full voice to welcome back Jordan Clark to action, three months after an injury in Bochum in pre-season stopped his season in its tracks.

However, as they huffed and puffed the Town could not call Onana into a meaningful stop and it was left to Kaminski to have the final say with another great stop to deny Rashford adding a second – one which would have flattered the hosts.

Eight minutes of added time was bolted on but despite a few threatening free-kicks which promised hope of a late, late leveller, one would not come.

The whistles from the home support told their own story. Hanging onto a one-goal lead at home to Luton Town. There’s a modicum of satisfaction to take from that somewhere, we’re sure.

Eventually that whistle would come to the home side’s relief and the Hatters took in the applause from the travelling hordes, who’d sung themselves hoarse after an afternoon of non-stop singing.

Defeat, sure. Encouragement? Definitely.

But the need for three points soon are vital and Edwards knows that.

A week’s break will follow and attention will turn to Crystal Palace at Kenilworth Road in the search of that next win.

See you then.

Town: Kaminski; Kaboré (sub Giles 85), Doughty (sub Clark 72), Lockyer, Mengi, Osho; Nakamba (sub Mpanzu 85), Barkley, Townend; Obgene, Townsend (sub Chong 60), Morris (sub Adebayo 85)

Subs not used: Krul, Berry, Brown, Nelson.

Attendance: 73,599, including 3,008 noisy Town fans

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