Hayes & Yeading United stormed to victory at Cressing Road Braintree with a second half goal blitz to warm their loyal supporters’ hearts on a cold evening.
United, who selected new goalkeeper James Beasant for his debut, were helped by the indiscipline of Braintree midfielder Jai Reason, who got himself sent off in the first half, but showed a welcome ruthless streak to take advantage and claim the three points with three goals.
The game started brightly. Luke Williams laid the ball off to Toby Ajala whose twenty yard shot was parried and then collected by home keeper Nathan McDonald. Then play switched very quickly to the other end as former United winger Andy Yiadom threaded the ball through to Sean Marks whose shot was blocked by Beasant who showed good anticipation to charge it down.
Despite this promising start, the pattern of play deteriorated and it was some time before either team got back in front of goal. In fact, 21 minutes had passed when another former United attacker, Ben Wright capitalised on some hesitation between Tom Cadmore and Sam Argent in dealing with a long punt up field but again Beasant was alert and off his line to narrow the angle and prevent a goal.
A close match became much harder for the home team on 32 minutes. Whilst battling for the ball in front of the dugouts, Argent tangled with Reason but it all seemed fairly innocuous until Reason inexplicably grabbed Argent under the chin. There were very few protests from home fans or players when the red card was shown to the Braintree midfielder who’d caused such damage in the previous meeting between the two teams.
United began to enjoy a lot of possession with the man advantage without really getting in front of goal, although Williams almost caught McDonald out with an angled shot to the near post when a cross seemed more likely, but the ball didn’t have enough velocity.
Braintree had one more effort before half time when Yiadom tried a speculative long shot, but although it was well hit, Beasant was well positioned to deal with it comfortably. In stoppage time, United forced another save from McDonald as the impressive Daniel Wishart collected Dwane Lee’s pass and advanced from his left-back position to fire a long shot on target, but not past the diving McDonald.
After some good half time advice from boss Nas Bashir, United’s players seemed to use their man advantage more effectively and almost reaped immediate rewards. The full backs, Argent and Wishart were key as they were able to exploit spaces derived from Braintree’s narrow set up and it was Argent who found Williams down the right wing. He cut inside and crossed for an unmarked Lee who got plenty of power in his header but saw it fly just past the far post.
United continued to press and got their breakthrough on 56 minutes catching Braintree with a lightning quick break. A Yiadom corner was booted clear at the near post by Cadmore and with one clever flick, Tom Collins was able to beat his marker and escape down the left flank. Although it looked like Matt Paine had rescued the situation for Braintree with a challenge, Collins kept on chasing the ball and hooked it back just before it crossed the bye-line, right into the path of a late arriving Williams who had a simple tap in.
By now, United were dominant. Within seven minutes, the lead was doubled. Argent’s forward pass found Collins. Substitute Corey Gameiro made a clever diagonal run to draw a defender away and Collins used the space to get the ball out of his feet and unleash a powerful shot which curled away from McDonald’s finger tips and into the bottom corner of the net.
Braintree changed their tactics and formation and got close to getting back into it as Brad Quinton’s dangerous deep cross was headed up into the air by Cadmore and Marks looked set to bury the loose ball, but scuffed his shot wide. Then Marks laid the ball off to the onrushing fullback, Paine who cut into the penalty area and clipped the bar with his rising shot.
However, their best spell of the game fizzled out and United finished strongly. Lee put substitute Mo Bettamer through one on one with a precise pass and although a timely challenge from Adam Bailey-Dennis denied him a goal, quite a scramble in the six yard box followed as both Williams and Louie Soares looked set to shoot but didn’t quite get to pull the trigger.
United were to cap a fine second half performance late on when McDonald sliced what seemed to be a routine clearance and Luke Williams collected the loose ball and ran straight back at him before finishing coolly.
Report by Nick Bell.
United Man of the Match: Tom Collins.
Match Highlights on You Tube Here.