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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 22:12 GMT 23:12 UK
Man Utd youngsters shine
Manchester United's Kieran Richardson is congratulated on scoring by his team-mates
Richardson (left) scored a superb opener
Youth Cup final, first leg
Middlesbrough 0-2 Man Utd

Manchester United are within touching distance of their record ninth FA Youth Cup triumph after a first leg win over Middlesbrough.

Kieran Richardson's superb fourth-minute strike set the visitors up for a clinical triumph at the Riverside.

And Boro's fire was extinguished long before Ben Collett drove powerfully home from an acute angle as the game entered stoppage time.

Coach Brian McClair knows his side must only avoid an embarrassing three-goal home defeat at Old Trafford on 25 April to clinch the trophy many of United's illustrious names have won in the past.

Boro, conquerors of Manchester City at the semi-final stage, could count themselves unfortunate not to have levelled.

But striker James Morrison was left stunned when Lee Lawrence foiled their best chance shortly before the break.

McClair could not have wished for a better start, as Richardson steered the visitors in front on virtually their first attack.

Richardson proceeded to boss the game for the next 20 minutes, showing the neat skills and persistent running which have earmarked him as the next potential star to come through the United academy system.

Rash challenges

Diminutive front man Anthony Peacock was behind most of the Teessiders' best work.

And he must have thought he had set James Morrison up for the equaliser when he threaded an inch-perfect ball through the United defence five minutes from the interval.

The Boro forward did little wrong, flicking the ball over advancing goalkeeper Luke Steele, then waiting for it to come down before hopefully driving his shot into the empty net.

Full-back Lawrence had other ideas though, sprinting in to make a brilliant goal-line block and preserve the visitors' advantage.

As both sides' play became increasingly disjointed, so the tackling started to increase in ferocity.

Eddie Johnson was yellow-carded for a foul on Anthony McMahon before Boro had a penalty appeal turn down by referee Rob Styles when Paul McShane appeared to handle.

The energy had visibly disappeared from Boro's legs and after substitute Sylvan Blake had seen a shot diverted away, Collett latched onto Chris Eagles' inswinging cross, controlled at the far post and then blasted into the net.



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