Uniteds final pre-season fixture saw a trip to Wealdstone to compete for the Brian Collins Memorial Shield end in victory for the visitors 3-2 on penalties after the sides ended ninety minutes at 2-2.
Once again todays fixture saw twice as much first half action as the second, indeed all four goals came in the first 45 minutes of a game that showed United a more physical opponent than previously encountered against the youngsters of Charlton and Exeter.
Kieran Knight had the first chance when a Steven Gregory free-kick fell to him in the area but his bouncing shot was easily dealt with by home keeper Mitch Swain. Stones then had a neat one-two between Dean Papali and Luke Muldowney that would have ended in a great opportunity for the former but for an excellent interception by Tom Cadmore.
The home side were playing some neat passing football and on eighteen minutes the United defence was too slow closing down full-back Lee Chappell and he rifled home off the inside of the post from 20 yards. United immediately hit back, Simon Martin met a perfect Danny Allen-Page cross only to see his effort pushed away by Swain at full stretch and then sixty seconds later it was all square. A quick throw on the left found Liam Collins and he in turn found Gregory in the centre of midfield, a quick switch to the right saw Michael Barima fire low across the area whereby Martin tucked the ball past Swain.
Gregory was just too high with a dipping drive for United before a careless tackle by Peter Collins in the United area saw Dean Papali tumble and a spot kick was awarded. Papali himself stepped up and fired past Kevin Davies to restore the Stones advantage.
Again United came back at the home side, Liam Collins was just off target from the edge of the area before a corner from the right was met by Cadmore (pictured left) at the far post and avoided several bodies before nestling in the back of the net despite a hack from Marcus Gross who was already in the net when he connected.
With just a couple of minutes to go to the break, United were denied the lead by a superb piece of keeping from Swain in the Stones goal. Allen-Page raced away down the right and fired the ball low across the box where a touch from Gross looked almost certain to end up in his own net before the outstretched arm of Swain pushed the ball up onto the bar and away for a corner.
United started the second period well, Liam Collins and Knight combined with Swain holding Collins effort before Swain again pulled off a superb stop, this time to deny Barima from point blank range.
Stones came back at us and Josh Cooper was a little too casual with his shot when well placed and the effort failed to trouble Davies. The United keeper however was lucky to only receive a yellow card for felling an on-coming striker outside the area, despite the fact he looked three yards offside the flag was not raised.
A period of substitutions then followed and the game died somewhat with just a couple of half chances coming Uniteds way in the final quarter hour. Staforde Palmer was twice denied by substitute keeper Ryan Trussell and with just a minute remaining Martin should have done better when he headed a Gregory cross wide of the post.
With the game going to spot kicks, it was United who took the Memorial Shield thanks to a 3-2 victory from twelve penalties. With skipper Nevin Saroya having been substituted during the game it was left to Garry Haylock's vice-captain Kevin Davies to collect the shield from members of the late Brian Collins' family.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.