Two extremely late goals finally saw off the challenge of Wessex League leaders Poole Town at their Tatnam ground on Saturday but by their performance you would not know there were four tiers between the sides in the pyramid, in fact but for a smart Lee Harrison save United could have been behind with three minutes to play.
With Adrian Pătulea reporting injured, it was left to new signing Jake Hyde (pictured in action right) to lead the attack down in Dorset. The early part of the game saw both sides sizing each other up and the first close shave didn't arrive until the 17th minute and it fell to the home side. Micky Hubbard fired an outswinging corner from the right, Lamin Dibba rose highest to head down and the ball fell to veteran 43 year old Steve Richardson who tried a cheeky back-heel with the ball going just wide of the upright.
United then began to find some space going forwards with Andy Yiadom in particular giving Dolphins left-back Jake Smeeton a torrid time. On 21 minutes it was indeed a Yiadom run down the right that saw him pick out Bradley Pritchard with a throughball but he was unable to test keeper Nic Jones as he was intercepted by a fine tackle from skipper Carl Poore.
Minutes later Yiadom himself went close when he received the ball from Lewis Ferrell on the right side, cut inside and tried his luck with his left foot and the effort dipped just over the Poole crossbar. Nine minutes before the break United's dominance finally brought reward when Jamie Hand worked space on the right and fired a teasing cross that saw left-back Lee Brown outjump Poore at the far post to head home his first goal for United.
The Dolphins could have been back in it minutes later though when a chip across the area by the impressive Carl Preston
was chested by Tom Cadmore with the ball falling to Aaron Skelton who fired wide from the edge of the area.
Two chances to increase the lead during stoppage time came and went for United. Pritchard received the ball in the area, turned his marker only for his shot to be deflected wide by Dibba. From the resultant short corner Holmes chipped the ball to Hand who pulled his shot across the face of Jones' goal and wide of the far post.
United started the second half quickly and both Yiadom and Michael Malcolm were off target with early efforts before just ten minutes in the almost unthinkable happened and the Dolphins drew level. A throughball from the left by Preston was allowed through for an offside looking Steve Smith to advance on Harrison's goal, the United keeper got to the ball first but it squirmed away from his fingertips and Richardson fired home despite the efforts of Ferrell on the line who could only help it into the net.
For a short while this fired United and pressure was constantly being put on the Dolphins goal but to little effect as Jones was proving a pain in the proverbial. Yiadom set up Hand but he was off target from just inside the area, Hand then found skipper Peter Holmes minutes later, his effort was on target only to be denied by Jones who dived left to push the ball wide. The resultant short corner found Yiadom who again picked out his skipper, this time he was denied by an even better save as Jones got his fingertips to a shot that was going right in the bottom corner.
A twenty minute lull in chances saw United appearing more nervous than the Dolphins and twice within a minute Harrison was required to stop the home side taking the lead.
Four minutes remained when Hubbard worked space for himself and let fly from 20 yards, Harrison palmed the ball out and eventually it was cleared for a corner. That corner itself caused havoc in the United area as centre-backs Dibba and Michael Walker rose together, the ball falling into the mass of legs and a Poole foot touched it goalwards only to be denied by Harrison's outstretched boot.
From almost being a hero at one end, it was Dibba who contributed to his side going behind as Pritchard received from Hand just inside the area he was upended from behind by the Poole defender and referee Atkin pointed straight to the spot. With United's poor form from the spot this season all breath was held as Brown took responsibility and coolly sent Jones the wrong way.
Three minutes into added time the result was put beyond doubt, albeit with a rather unfair differential, when Pritchard moved in from the left touchline and drew Jones before squaring the ball to 18 year old substitute Daryl McLean who had the easy task of opening his United account in just his second appearance.
A big thank you to all at Poole Town for making it an enjoyable day for all, and best of luck with the rest of the season and your attempts to move back up the pyramid.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Andy Yiadom.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.