Early goals secure a 2-1 victory over Shelbourne...
SHELBOURNE 1 (Evans 50), UNITED 2 (Doukara 9, Sacko 13) (Tolka Park, 7pm kick-off)
Shelbourne team: Brady, Brown, O'Connor, O'Reilly, C Kavanagh, D Kavanagh, Boyne, Grimes, Shannon, English, Walshe. Subs: Murray, Carragher, Harper, Duggan, Evans, Cassin, McTeer, Robinson, Coyle.
United team (first 60 minutes): Turnbull, Coyle, Bartley, Diagouraga, Denton, Phillips, Sacko, Murphy, Mowatt, Roofe, Doukara. Subs (final 30): Peacock-Farrell, Purver, McKay, Bamba, Taylor, Vieira, Grimes, Botaka, Stokes, Antonsson, Wood.
United’s pre-season campaign got off to a winning start on Wednesday evening as first-half goals from Souleymane Doukara and Hadi Sacko secured a 2-1 victory away to Irish outfit Shelbourne.
The French pair struck during the early stages of an opening 45 minutes which saw Garry Monk’s side control possession and create a number of encouraging openings in front of a sizeable United following.
Doukara got the ball rolling after just nine minutes, firing into the bottom corner after Kemar Roofe had charged down a clearance inside the area, before Sacko latched onto Alex Mowatt’s through ball to double the advantage with a cool finish just four minutes later.
Shelbourne were able to pull one back to half the deficit in the 50th minute, Adam Evans bundling home a low effort at the back post, but the Whites’ victory rarely looked in doubt and the winning margin could have been increased as the visitors enjoyed further sights of goal on a productive night in Dublin.
Garry Monk, taking charge of United for the first time, fielded two separate XIs at Tolka Park, with Luke Murphy captaining the side that played the opening hour before Sol Bamba took the armband for the final 30 minutes.
Doukara, starting alongside new boys Sacko and Roofe in a three-pronged attack, tucked the ball beyond Shels ‘keeper Jack Brady from inside the area after Roofe’s high-pressing had paid dividends, with his block falling kindly into the French forward’s path to get United off the mark.
And Monk had further reason to celebrate on the 13th minute as Sacko, a recent loan arrival from Sporting Lisbon, showed great composure to convert Mowatt’s inch-perfect pass and cap a fine United move.
Young full-back Tyler Denton and midfielder Murphy both saw speculative efforts held by Brady, before James English headed high and wide from a corner at the opposite end as the hosts searched for a way back into the game.
Ross Turnbull was forced into his first real save of the evening on 39 minutes, making amends for his initial loose clearance by rushing off his line to smother block English’s strike with his legs.
But, on the whole, United remained in control and could have made it three on the stroke of half-time as Roofe’s close-range effort was deflected behind after a twisting run from Doukara inside the area had teed up the former Oxford man.
A long-range strike from Murphy was then deflected over the bar as United’s 2-0 lead was taken into the break at the end of a positive first half.
Shelbourne made a number of changes during the interval and one of them, Evans, got the hosts on the scoresheet within five minutes of the restart as he forced the ball beyond Turnbull from close-range.
United looked to make a quick response, with both Doukara and Roofe coming close, before the hour mark saw Monk introduce his second XI of the evening.
A raise in the tempo was immediately noticeable and Swedish striker Marcus Antonsson twice threatened as his half-volley was blocked at the near post before substitute goalkeeper Greg Murray held his low strike.
The lively Jordan Botaka was also twice denied by Murray in the closing stages as the 2-1 scoreline remained for United’s first run out of the summer.
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