A dominant first half performance followed by a determined defensive display in the second half saw Hayes & Yeading United to their first victory in seven league games in front of just 190 supporters at Church Road on Tuesday evening, despite ending the game with ten men.
Manager Garry Haylock used two strikers in a change of formation, including Adrian Pătulea, who was completing his last game for United before the end of his loan spell.
It was his strike partner Jake Hyde who got the first effort on target, a speculative overhead volley which almost caught goalkeeper Rikki Banks out. But Pătulea was to take just 17 minutes to get on the scoresheet, converting a penalty after Bradley Pritchard’s neat turn and run into the area was ended by a trip from Matt Crabb.
Six minutes later, it was 2-0. Graeme Montgomery delivered a near post corner and Tom Cadmore met it with a diagonal run and header which beat the Eastbourne defenders on the line.
A long ball put Jamie Taylor clear soon afterwards for Eastbourne, but his attempted lob over Niki-Lee Bulmer was within the keeper’s reach.
Haylock was forced into quite a major reorganisation when Charlie Wassmer got a serious looking head injury following a foul by Richard Pacquette and without an obvious choice of centre half on the bench, Ahmed Deen came on and several players switched position.
United didn’t let it affect their performance, and just before half time, Adam Green’s throughball was laid off by Pătulea into Hyde’s path and the former Barnet forward hit a goalbound shot which unfortunately cannoned off Pătulea, diverting it away from goal.
More positional switches took place at half time as Haylock had a rethink, and this did improve things defensively for United, although Eastbourne offered little threat for much of the evening. Pacquette did set up Taylor in the 59th minute, but the forward, who applied a neat finish beyond Bulmer, was flagged offside.
Nathan Webb, back in his original right back position set up Pătulea for a snapshot which Banks did well to keep out, but for the main part, play remained in the middle third of the pitch until the 76th minute. Bradley Pritchard, having already been booked for a first half foul, diverted a Deen cross into the net with his hand and picked up his second booking in the process, leaving United one man short.
At first this seemed to spur United on to kill the game off. Peter Holmes advanced from midfield before seeing his low shot tipped just wide of the post by Banks. Then a minute later, Andy Yiadom produced some neat footwork to turn away from his marker and squared the ball for substitute Phil Appiah whose low drive fizzed just the wrong side of the same post. Montgomery almost marked his home debut with a goal as well, and his shot, although straight at Banks, was not cleanly taken.
However, Eastbourne caused a rather nervy ending by reducing the areas in the 86th minute, Ethan Strevett putting Nathan Crabb clear, the substitute scoring with a neat finish past Bulmer.
In truth, it would’ve been a travesty if it had led to Eastbourne getting something from the game, but they very nearly did, twice in the closing stages, both courtesy of Joe Partington. First, the tall midfielder had a looping header tipped onto the roof of the net by Bulmer, and from the resulting corner, he flashed a header inches wide of the far post.
Matt Smart also had a shot on target deep into stoppage time, but Bulmer fielded it comfortably and confirmed a deserved victory for his side.
Report by Nick Bell.
United Man of the Match: Tom Cadmore.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.