United came back from Essex on Saturday with a third away victory of the campaign and the single goal winning margin flattered the hosts somewhat as the visitors dominated the chances throughout the ninety minutes.
With manager Garry Haylock again able to call on messrs Gregory and Cadmore, the side took on a more familiar look to that which had faced Herne Bay twice in the previous weeks FA Cup ties.
United began well pushing the home side back at every opportunity, in fact the first twenty minutes barely saw the Iron anywhere near Delroy Preddie's goal while chances came and went at the other end. A Steven Gregory free-kick from distance found its way to keeper Nicky Morgan who managed to fumble it away at the foot of the post and minutes later the same player went close after good approach play from Simon Martin.
Pressure continued to come from United, Danny Allen-Page and Gregory exchanged passes with Allen-Page cutting the ball back to Staforde Palmer whose neat control and shot on the turn was just off target, Will Hendry then saw a shot fielded by Morgan and Palmer and Martin both had shots charged down by last ditch defensive tackles.
On 23 minutes though United could easily have fallen behind from the Iron's first meaningful attack, Robbie Martin found space on the right before crossing to an unmarked Leon Archer who headed a good yard wide with just Preddie protecting the goal in front of him. The home side almost got a lucky break from a free-kick but Louis Riddle's deflected effort was fielded by Preddie.
As the break approached United saw a couple of half chances come their way, Nevin Saroya
rose above giant keeper Morgan (pictured left) but could not keep the ball down and Gregory hit a drive from 25 yards that dipped just over the crossbar. The home side were lucky to retain 11 men on the pitch as the half time whistle blew when an already cautioned Riddle pinned Tom Cadmore to the ground only for referee Hair to unbelievably take no action.
Iron manager George Borg obviously recognised the risk of going down to ten men as he replaced the tempestuous Riddle at the break with Chris Sullivan. Indeed just six minutes into the half Sullivan worked a chance for Archer but his shot on the turn went out for a throw in! Sullivan was again in the action just before the hour mark when a crossfield ball from Robbie Martin saw him chest and shoot only to be denied by an excellent block from Preddie with Cadmore hacking clear.
United then began to assert themselves on the game once more, a deep Allen-Page cross cleared all in the centre, falling nicely to Toby Little who was lurking at the far post but his first time volley was blocked away. The deadlock was finally broken in the 61st minute, a long punt upfield from Preddie was flicked by Simon Martin to Palmer who returned the ball to his strike partner, two tame efforts later the ball ran loose and Palmer was quickest to react with a predators finish.
The lead could have been short lived as minutes later a Billy Burgess cross from the right was chested down in the six yard box by Eugene Ofori but he failed to hit the target.
A lull in chances followed and it was not until seven minutes from time that they started to flow again. A Little cross sailed over the head of Morgan only to be headed back across the face of his own goal by Mark Jones, just going wide of the post. This was closely followed by Palmer sending Hendry through but despite beating Morgan his effort went agonisingly wide, closely followed by a Martin drive with the same result.
The Iron's last shot in anger saw a curling Sullivan effort hit the head of Ofori and go over before United missed two gilt edged chances to seal the game in stoppage time. Allen-Page and Palmer combined to set up Hendry but his effort went wide off the outside of the upright, then Allen-Page was again involved, this time setting up Palmer but he was also wide of the target.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.