Two of Simon East’s regular’s in the shape of Joel Jacobs and top scorer George Isaac were on duty with the reserves at Hitchin Town as United again attempted to end their 2011 losing streak in the Ryman Youth League, this time against Hampton & Richmond Borough.
An early Cyrus Longdon-Hughes cross from the left was brought down by Leo Cunningham but his volley on the turn is well held by Hampton keeper Milan Stojsavjevic. Play soon switches ends and Beavers skipper Benjamin Chekib sent Dwaine Crichlow through on the United goal with Luke Daley doing well to spread himself to push the ball away.
United are soon back on the attack with Callum Chickah, the right winger crossing to Cunningham who sees his shot diverted wide off the back of an unsuspecting defenders leg while at the other end Chekib is causing United problems in midfield with his range of passing, this time he picked out Pro Jeon Jean who fired an angled shot across the face of Daley’s goal.
Just before the half hour mark, a glorious chance for United went begging as Nicke Kabamba failed to connect with Chickah’s excellent near post cross and a defender cleared the danger at the far post. Minutes later a Bobby Cumber free-kick from more than 30 yards whistled just past the upright with Stojsavjevic beaten.
The Beavers went even closer to an opener on 36 minutes when Ellis Mellen leapt to meet a Matthew Tanton corner only for his header to smash back off the United crossbar before being cleared to safety.
The final chance of the half fell to Cameron Gilmartin who rose highest to a Cumber corner but failed to get his effort on target.
Hampton are quickly on the march in the second half and once more it is their skipper Chekib who seems to be involved in everything positive including an acrobatic 12 yard overhead effort from a Tanton corner 12 yards that Daley does well to pluck out of the air.
Minutes later, Chekib finds himself free at the far post as he dives to meet a Gustave Sousa cross, his diving header is somewhat wayward but it collected by Sousa who advances before flashing a shot across the face of the United goal.
Just before the hour mark a rare view of goal comes United’s way as Gilmartin plays a fine ball to Chickah who lifts the ball over the on-coming Stojsavjevic but his effort goes agonisingly wide of the target.
Just after the hour mark the Beavers open the scoring when a forward ball towards Crichlow sees Daley race from his goal but in attempting to clear the United keeper totally misses the ball which gives Crichlow the simple task of walking the ball into the vacant United net.
Just four minutes later United were almost back level when substitute Ryan Simpson collected a pass after good work by Cunningham and Kabamba, his shot beat the keeper only to crash against a post before being cleared by a covering defender.
And then with less than fifteen minutes to play the Beavers scored a second when Sousa played Chekib through, the skilful midfielder neatly rounding Daley before sliding the ball past the covering defender on the line for a deserved goal of his own.
It could soon have been worse for United as Crichlow was put clean through by a perfect Sousa pass, this time he is denied as Daley makes a fine one handed save before grabbing the weak follow up from substitute Martin Bradshaw.
United did finally find the net in stoppage time as having been awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the Hampton box, Simpson stepped up and curled a low shot that just sneaked in at the near post despite Stojsavjevic’s desperate effort to keep it out.
There was still a last gasp chance for United to pull off a shock recovery as Kabamba gets two bites at the cherry in the area, the first is blocked back to him by Mellen and the follow-up is well saved by Stojsavjevic to seal victory for his side.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Ryan Simpson.