United came into the game as favourites against lowly Dorchester but a gritty performance from the visitors saw them go home to Dorset with a point from a 2-2 draw at Church Road.
Manager Garry Haylock gave a debut to his fifth goalkeeper of the season as former Lazio stopper Alessio De Angelis (left) took his place between the United sticks. The only other change from the previous weekend saw Toby Little return in place of Liam Collins on the left side.
The game started well for United and with just three minutes played we should have taken the lead. Staforde Palmer won possession and found Ram Marwa who in turn sent Danny Allen-Page away on the right side and when his near post cross was met on the volley by Josh Scott a goal looked on the cards only for the ball to go agonisingly wide of the post.
The opening goal was not long coming though and for once it was United who got a lucky break. Toby Little's cross from the left was helped on by Scott and fell nicely for Allen-Page who saw his volley deflected over the head of keeper Simon Evans into the far corner of the net.
Sadly for the home side the lead stayed intact for less than two minutes as the Magpies responded positively. A Tom Mitchell drive from the edge of the area was superbly deflected over the bar by the sliding Nevin Saroya but the corner caused all sorts of problems as a near post flick on was headed upwards by Saroya and a second Mitchell shot fell to Jones Awuah in the six yard box and he beat De Angelis from close range.
It was United's turn to work the keeper next, Palmer again won the ball and this time found his strike partner Josh Scott who embarked on a mazy run that resulted in a placed shot to the far post that Evans pushed away at full stretch. Ten minutes later a double Evans save denied United again, Little's centre was met powerfully by Marwa with Evans blocking the effort away, the ball was then worked right to Allen-Page whose cross was deflected upwards with Marwa trying an overhead kick that Evans again had to dive full stretch to palm away.
The Magpies then raced straight down the other end and found Ivan Forbes wide on the left, his centre looked destined to provide a strike for Awuah but a last ditch sliding tackle from Steve Perkins took the ball off his toe. Four minutes later saw the last real action of the half and it also saw United regain the lead. Marwa picked up the ball before slotting a perfect ball through to Scott who finally beat the offside trap to slot past Evans dive and into the Dorchester net.
The second period started with an audacious 35 yard Will Hendry effort after a poor clearance before the Magpies strike partnership of Awuah and Jamie Gleeson carved open the United defence and fired their side level. Awuah outjumped Saroya on the edge of the area and played the ball left to his strike partner who calmly placed his shot wide of De Angelis' dive into the corner of the United net.
As far as chances go the final half hour of the game was rather devoid, Hendry found Marwa who flicked forwards to Scott who having outpaced his marker was denied by the frame of Evans who blocked his shot to safety. Within minutes it was De Angelis' turn to keep the scores level as substitute Darren Watts found space for an angled drive in the United area only to be denied by a fine save as the Italian keeper pushed the ball around the post. The resultant corner provided another opening as Roy O'Brien rose highest only to head wide of the target.
The final chance of the game came in stoppage time as a Hendry corner from the left caused mayhem in the Magpies area and as the ball bounced loose Saroya tried to loop home a header but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.