Manchester United's stars of the future dazzled at the Ballymena Showgrounds last night.
In a one-off StatSport SuperCupNI friendly fixture, Quinton Fortune and Neil Woods' team played out a highly entertaining seven-goal thriller against David Jeffrey's Ballymena United.
While Manchester United's Under-23s ran out 4-3 winners, the Irish League side held their own, with Cathair Friel causing the young Red Devils more than a few problems.
United's teenage quartet of Dyllan Levitt, D'Marni Mellor, Aidan Barlow and Arnau Puigmal were all on target for the Old Trafford youngsters, who had trailed to an early Friel header.
Later in the game, Andy McGrory and Ryan Harpur both found the net for the Sky Blues, who looked in fine nick ahead of the new Danske Bank Premiership season.
Ethan Laird was the first United starlet to try his luck, but an alert Ross Glendinning made a smart fourth-minute save.
At the other end, Friel kept United on their toes. He was rewarded with a goal in the 16th minute after some fine work down the flank by new signing Ross Lavery. Friel was on hand to place his powerful header beyond the reach of Paul Woolston.
Jim Ervin handed the visitors a way back into the game when he clipped George Tanner inside the area in the 29th minute. Levitt tucked home the spot-kick.
United had the lead five minutes later courtesy of a tidy finish from Mellor, who scored after a pull back from the right.
Leroy Miller really should have equalised on the stroke of half-time, but he failed to control the ball inside the area and the chance slipped away. United went into the break 2-1 up.
It was 3-1 on the hour mark. Forward Barlow broke into the area and slotted past Ballymena's substitute goalkeeper Jordan Williamson.
Despite being two goals behind, Ballymena refused to give in. When Friel was fouled in the 69th minute, it gave McGrory the chance to score from the spot. He made no mistake, making it 3-2.
Steven McCullough almost equalised from a free-kick, but after a scramble the ball was gathered by the visiting goalkeeper.
United ended the game as a contest in the 84th minute after a slick passing move. Williamson made a good save, but Puigmal was on hand to score the rebound.
But still the United of Ballymena refused to surrender. They pulled a goal back in the 88th minute when Harpur converted a low Friel cross.
It proved to be a consolation, with Ballymena unable to find an equaliser in the final stages of the game. Despite that, Jeffrey will be pleased with his team's performance, while the large crowd at The Showgrounds witnessed seven goals and a hugely entertaining game of football.