Hayes & Yeading United won for the first time in eight games, and fully deserved to do so with a dominant performance over Barrow.
Following their disappointing defeat at home to Newport last Tuesday, manager Garry Haylock made just one change with Adam Bygrave recovering from illness to take his place back in the side. This caused a reshuffle with Lewis Ferrell reverting to right back, James Mulley to midfield and Ahmed Deen making way and taking his place on the bench.
Within a minute, United were putting the Barrow defence under pressure, and a free kick inside the penalty arc was awarded. On loan striker Liam Enver-Marum struck it well but straight at Alan Martin, who fisted the ball clear. Barrow responded but Mark Boyd's low shot was watched past the post by an undisturbed Lee Harrison.
From a quick throw in by Ferrell, Jamie Hand improvised with a volley which tested Martin's reactions, but the keeper was able to push the ball to safety again. Then he held onto Michael Malcolm's weak shot after the forward had done well to create space in a crowded penalty area from Peter Holmes's free kick.
Boyd was wide again from a free kick which amusingly convinced the watching Barrow fans that it had gone in! However, United continued to have the upper hand and Lee Brown latched onto Enver-Marum's cut back and hit a fierce shot which Martin blocked impressively.
Barrow's closest first half effort came when Bygrave was dispossessed by Walker and he slotted in his strike partner Blundell who was held up by Tom Cadmore before his shot was smothered by Harrison. United finished the half strongly though, and Holmes and Malcolm orchestrated a swift counter attck which resulted in Mulley firing just over. Soon afterwards, Malcolm was unlucky when his goalbound shot was bravely blocked by Mike Pearson.
The pressure told in stoppage time. Malcolm collected a loose ball following a Jamie Hand pass down the right channel from which Bradley Pritchard was dispossessed. His lofted centre was headed by Enver-Marum and the ball came down off the crossbar and crossed the line, despite Martin's best efforts first of all to stop it and then to persuade the officials that it hadn't.
After the previous two matches in which United had impressed in the first half and then let games drift away, Haylock sent his side out for the second half and straight into training drills to establish focus. Although the second half was less eventful than the first, this clearly had the desired effect as United defended assuredly. Barrow made two changes but they were unable to improve their fortunes as United's inventive approach play gradually wore them down.
Michael Malcolm was convinced he should have had a penalty when he fell under Phil Bolland's challenge but Mr Burt, the referee, wasn't to be persuaded. Then Ferrell came close to his first United goal on 62 minutes following a fine move. Pritchard created space in the centre of the park and unleashed a 25 yard shot which was blocked by Pearson. Jamie Hand swept the loose ball out wide to Ferrell who advanced before unleashing a shot which whistled just past the far post.
Just a minute later, United's lead was doubled. Enver-Marum flicked the ball up to Holmes whose header was touched on by Malcolm and seized upon by Pritchard before the Zimbabwean midfielder curled a beautiful shot beyond Martin and into the bottom corner.
From this point on, United seemed comfortable. Their task got even easier when Bolland was sent off for two bookings in seven minutes, the second for a foul on Elliott Buchanan right in front of the dugouts. Harrison held on well to James Owen's rising shot, but United finished the game strongly and three times they came close to extending their lead late on. Brown's deep cross was headed up in the air by Paul Edwards and Pritchard fired the loose ball goalwards, but Martin got down to save. He also saved Malcolm's weak shot after Holmes's neat backheel found him in space. Then in stoppage time, Deen and Pritchard combined to set up Malcolm who again found Martin equal to his shot.
It didn't matter for the home side who were confirmed as winners soon afterwards and did so claiming their first clean sheet of the season.
Report by Nick Bell.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Bradley Pritchard.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.