Goal-happy Wanderers again showed their liking for the EFL Trophy as the holders brushed aside United’s youngsters in ruthless style to reach the knock-out stages, writes Pete Oliver.
Ian Evatt’s men guaranteed progress from Group E with a second successive win to stay on course for another potentially extended run back towards Wembley.
Dan Nlundulu and Josh Sheehan both got their first goals of the season with two apiece as Wanderers were 5-0 up within an hour.
Gethin Jones also got on the scoresheet for the first time since netting in last season’s final win over Plymouth and on a night of firsts, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson also got up and running for the campaign with the sixth of the night.
To continue the theme, youngsters Nelson Khumbeni and Luke Matheson then came off the bench to score their first goals for Wanderers to round off a near perfect night with the prospect of more to come in the defence of the trophy.
Albeit with limited options, Wanderers showed their intent with a strong line-up including just four changes from the side that started Saturday’s draw with Peterborough.
Jones and George Thomason were able to play ahead of their impending league bans but Evatt took the opportunity to completely rest Josh Dacres-Cogley for the first time this season, as well as Kyle Dempsey and his current front pair of Dion Charles and Victor Adeboyejo.
Nlundulu and Bodvarsson were therefore paired up front and Nlundulu seized the opportunity to put Wanderers ahead after 20 minutes.
It had been a fairly low-key start but the Whites sprung into life when Sheehan collected a throw-in from Jones and injected a burst of pace with a clever run and cross to pick out Nlundulu, who coolly steered the ball home from 10 yards.
One then quickly became two as Sheehan again showed his class to double Wanderers lead and give them complete control of the tie.
The Wales international combined well with Bodvarsson and after collecting a return pass from the striker foxed keeper Radek Vitek with a neat finish into the bottom corner.
United – captained by former Wanderers’ loanee Shola Shoretire – tried to mount a response and Whites’ keeper Nathan Baxter was called into action for the first time to gather a shot from Ethan Williams.
But all the pressure was coming on the visitors’ goal and after Sheehan and Aaron Morley forced Vitek into saves, the big Czech was beaten again six minutes before the break.
It was becoming the Sheehan show and the midfield maestro produced another moment of magic when he collected the ball from 25 yards out and curled an effort into the top corner.
That was effectively game over and Wanderers still had time for a fourth before half-time as Jones also opened his account for the season.
Bodvarsson was again involved as he dummied Morley’s low cross for Jones to arrive near the penalty spot and side-foot powerfully home.
Baxter hadn’t been a total spectator as he again saved from the lively Williams either side of the interval – the first an excellent stop low down to his right.
But the second half was only three minutes old when Wanderers made it 5-0 with another fine goal.
Jones capped a fine night’s work when he again got away down the right-hand side after being released by Sheehan and his cross was perfectly delivered for Nlundulu to power home an unstoppable header as the young Reds were exposed again.
Wanderers had ticked almost every box and added another plus point for the night when Bodvarsson then made it six of the best with 25 minutes to go.
The Icelander was disappointed not to turn in another excellent cross from Jones but rejoined the action just in time to run onto a precise pass from Will Forrester and thunder a fine finish into the roof of the net.
United did pull one back through Omari Forson to deprive Baxter of a clean sheet but the six-goal margin was quickly restored two of Wanderers’ young guns combined.
Matheson got his second taste of the competition in a Whites’ shirt and when he got forward to pick out B Team colleague Khumbeni, the midfielder gleefully rammed the ball home from 15 yards in accomplished style.
Not to be outdone Matheson – who famously scored a League Cup goal against United’s first-team as a 16-year-old with Rochdale – then got in on the act himself with a sweet first-time strike from Thomason’s pass as almost everything Wanderers tried came off.
It was that sort of night.
Wanderers: Baxter; Forrester, Toal, Iredale (Matheson 68); Thomason; Jones, Morley, Sheehan (Khumbeni 68), Williams (Inwood 77); Nlundulu, Bodvarsson (Jerome 65). Substitutes: Hutchinson, Adeboyejo, Inwood, Halford.
Manchester United U21s: Vitek; Kambwala, Bennett (Murray HT), Aljofree, Forson; Shoretire, Oyedele; Mesia (Nolan HT), Scanlon (Wheatley 65), Williams (McAllister 77); Hugill. Substitutes: Harrison, Kingdon.
Attendance: 3,007 (452 away)