Manchester United Under-23s needed a late double from midfielder Charlie McCann to snatch all three points when they met Southampton on Saturday.
Neil Wood’s side were without a number of their top players for the game; Shola Shoretire and Amad Diallo have both been called up to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s senior team, while midfielder Hannibal Mejbri is sidelined through injury, leaving striker Joe Hugill as the only regular member of the attack.
With so many crucial absences, it came as no surprise to see United frustrated in the first half. Hugill missed a handful of great chances to open the scoring, while McCann started finding his sights with an effort from range before the interval, but neither side managed to make the breakthrough early on.
It was a frustrating showing for Hugill, who was not at his devastating best and was replaced by Dillon Hoogewerf shortly after the hour mark, but the change did not have the immediate impact Wood was hoping for.
Instead, it was Southampton who took the lead ten minutes later as winger Kazeem Olaigbe sent in a powerful drive which found its way into the back of the net after a touch of the gloves of Matej Kovar, who was powerless to stop his side from falling behind.
It seemed to be the icing on the top of a miserable cake for United, who should easily have been ahead at that point but were left staring defeat in the face. With 82 minutes on the clock, things were looking bleak.
The midfielder, who found the back of the net against Everton last time out as well, controlled a cross from Will Fish with an exquisite touch, allowing him to power United back into the game with seven minutes remaining, but he wasn’t done there.
Just two minutes later, McCann was celebrating again. A cross-field ball from Hoogewerf found McCann on the left wing, and the 18-year-old cut inside and curled home what was a deserved winner for United.
The result leaves United third in the Premier League 2, seven points behind leaders Manchester City, who also have a game in hand on their crosstown rivals.