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Neil Wood explains what impressed him most about Manchester United U21s at Lincoln City

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Neil Wood is drawing on the positives for his Manchester United academy players after they went down fighting against League One contenders Lincoln City.

In their first EFL Trophy game of the season, the U21s found themselves 3-0 behind at the LNER Stadium – as goals from Charlie McNeill and Bjorn Hardley gave them something to savour later on.

Anthony Scully did most of the damage with a superb hat-trick for the home side, while the highly-rated United prospect Hannibal Mejbri saw red for two bookable offences.

It was a topsy-turvy opener for the next generation at United, but a unique 90-minute challenge which ultimately gleaned more plus points than negatives.

But what impressed the U21s manager most of all in Lincolnshire?

Speaking post-match, Wood told MEN Sport: “The physicality is a big difference, the speed and tempo of it. Even just the football, players running and the way they move. It’s a hell of a lot faster.

“It’s just the occasion, playing with fans and being in a stadium. It’s a great experience for our boys to do that.

“A lot of them have barely played five or six academy games at this time, so it was a big achievement for them to get through a game like this.

“When we are 3-0 down you are half-thinking it could go four, five or the other way, so for the players to hit back, get it to 3-2 and finish the game putting Lincoln under pressure, I think that was a really pleasing sign for us.”

On falling 3-0 down, Wood continued: “I thought we had a fair amount of the ball in the first half, we just weren’t effective in the higher areas of the pitch. We didn’t have enough people running in behind them and we also didn’t have enough aggression with our running.

“We gave some really na├»ve goals away. Stuff we spoke about that couldn’t happen did happen and, ultimately, it results in conceding goals. That was disappointing.

“At half-time we didn’t feel dead and buried. It was our mistake again to give away the third goal. Charlie scored a good goal for us and then it felt like we were back in the game.

“I felt we finished the game for the last 20-25 minutes really well.”

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