A strong Hayes & Yeading line-up took to the Beaconsfield Road turf on Wednesday to face Harrow Borough in the Middlesex Premier Cup with a trip to Uxbridge the prize for the victors.
United, playing into a strong wind saw a lot of early possession with little creation, the visitors however did create an early chance when Kurt Morlese broke on the left and centred to Byron Bubb, the striker’s shot dipping just over Chris Baker’s goal. An opener for Harrow was not far away though as a break into the area saw a shirt pull by Charlie Wassmer and assistant referee Mark Sennett signalled for a spot kick. Morlese stepped up and duly sent Baker the wrong way.
Battling the elements and a rugged defence, United were soon on the trail of an equaliser. Dan Mehmet played the ball left to a healthy again Kyle Fraser-Allen who cut inside and made space to shoot, his effort going just wide of former Hayes FC keeper Keita Karamoko’s goal.
Fraser-Allen then delivered an out-swinging corner that Wassmer did well to get his head to but from 18 yards Karamoko was able to catch comfortably just under his crossbar.
Morlese saw a shot from the edge of the United area go just too high before play switched and a low Fraser-Allen corner was controlled by Staforde Palmer only for Karamoko to be well placed to gather his shot on the turn.
An immediate switch of ends saw a vital interception from Alex Duffy who threw himself in the way of a blast from Charles Ball. As the half closed, new United striker Craig Watkins had two great chances to open his account. The first saw him advance onto a neat Palmer back-heel only to be foiled by Karamoko, the second went closer as a ricochet took the ball into his path and he beat Karamoko only to see his shot go over off the crossbar.
A position switch between Palmer and Watkins saw the former Woking man playing wide on the right and it was from this position that he was to open his United account just seven minutes into the half.
With the wind now in United’s favour, Fraser-Allen found space on the left and centred, Palmer stepped over the ball allowing Watkins to arrive at the far post and confidently slide the ball into the bottom corner beyond Karamoko’s outstretched hand.
It could very quickly have gone wrong though as almost from the kick off Bubb burst through on goal only to be denied by the swiftness of Baker who shot off his line to smother at the second attempt. After a lull in action that saw Wassmer limp off with a foot injury after a very heavy tackle, the re-arranged United defence was almost breached on 75 minutes when Andrew Harewood saw his shot come back off the bar and Baker then did well to block Ball’s follow-up before Nathan Webb hacked the ball clear.
The final ten minutes saw two fine strikes from the impressive Palmer that sealed United’s place in the quarter-finals. The first, on 83 minutes, came after Fraser-Allen did extremely well to head back a deep Duffy free-kick and when the ball was headed out Palmer was on hand to volley it back into the Borough net from just inside the box.
United’s third, and Palmer’s second, came just a minute from time when he picked up the ball on the edge of the area and turned his marker before firing just inside the post from 18 yards.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Website United Man of the Match: Staforde Palmer.