Hayes & Yeading travelled to Lancashire to face one of the title favourites in the shape of Fleetwood Town and deserved at least a share of the spoils for their efforts. Unfortunately for Nas Bashir's side it was a story of a missed penalty and a superb 85th minute strike that saw the points stay with the very physical home side who ended the game with no fewer than seven players having received yellow cards.
Nas gave a debut to new signing Curtis Ujah who some had seen briefly in a couple of pre-season games and had been quite impressed. He lined up in central defence alongside Tom Cadmore which allowed Mark Bentley to move into his more accustomed midfield role with striker Nathan Elder dropping to the bench.
The game itself started at a fast pace with Sam Argent coming to the rescue in just the third minute as a corner was flicked on to Jamie McGuire who saw his effort cleared off the line by the United defender with the follow up just clearing the crossbar.
United then gave the home side an early scare as Luke Williams flicked the ball to Richard Pacquette, although a defender dispossessed him all he succeeded in doing was giving the ball back to the United striker who hit a shot on the turn that was only just side of the far post.
Still inside the first six minutes and a long pass to George Donnelly on the right saw him beat the offside trap and advance into the area, keeper Steve Arnold however got his angles right and Donnelly's shot across the face of goal went wide of the target.
Pacquette should have given the visitors the lead on 16 minutes when skipper Jamie Hand picked him out with a far post cross but he was stretching and headed wide of the post. United went closer just before the half hour mark when Pacquette collected a deep corner on the left and found Williams, his far post cross was met by Mark Bentley who saw his header come back off the face of the post before being cleared.
Five minutes later United were given a golden opportunity to take the lead when superb distribution by Arnold found Pierre Joseph-Dubois, he held off a challenge from Paul Edwards before threading the ball to Williams just inside the area, his quick feet drew a trip from McGuire and a penalty was awarded. Pacquette stepped up only for his kick to be pushed away by Fleetwood keeper Scott Davies.
United closed the game on top as chances came and went to both Louie Soares, from a free-kick that went over off the wall, and Bentley who saw his shot on the turn whistle past the upright.
With the wind at their backs and drizzle starting to fall, it was the home side who started better after the break. McGuire hit a speculative drive from 20 yards that was deflected wide and minutes later a free flowing move down the left involving Jamie Milligan, Edwards and Alan Goodall saw the ball crossed to Scott Brown who caught it on the half volley but was leaning back and the ball went high and wide of Arnold's goal.
Joseph-Dubois then drew a diving save from Davies before the home side had the ball in the net when Richard Brodie headed home a centre by substitute Alex-Ray Harvey only to be denied by the raised assistant's flag for offside.
At the midway point in the half, a corner from the left was headed goalwards by Rob Atkinson and with legs flying Arnold bravely dived on the ball in the 6 yard box. United's own substitute Daniel Wishart was also starting to cause Fleetwood problems with his runs down the left flank, having already fired a low hard cross that everybody missed minutes earlier, he again beat his man, this time choosing to shoot but Davies saved comfortably.
With less than 15 minutes to play, United looked to have been caught on the break by Harvey who raced away on the left before cutting the ball inside to Brodie who was denied a shot on goal by a superb recovery tackle by Hand who had chased back from midfield. Seconds later Argent was on hand to keep the scoresheet blank again as he blocked a Magno Vieira header right on the far post.
The home side were starting to pile on the pressure now and with 10 minutes to go a corner from the left was met with a powerful header from Matt Flynn that Arnold did extremely well to tip over the bar.
Minutes later Bashir's side had to re-arrange as the solid figure of Ujah limped out of the game to be replaced by Harrison Bayley, with Bentley moving into the back-four and while this forced change cannot be blamed for the goal 90 seconds later, it may have been a contributing factor. As United continued to reorganize at the back, a quick throw-in saw the ball find its way to Milligan who made space for himself and fired a 20 yard shot that flew like an arrow into the top corner of Arnold's goal giving the stopper no chance.
Hayes & Yeading did have one final chance to earn the point we so deserved in stoppage time when Williams' deep free-kick was met by Nathan Elder, his header from the most acute of angles going over off the top of the Fleetwood crossbar.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Curtis Ujah.
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