For the second time this season, Hayes & Yeading have given title chasing Fleetwood Town a real test but sadly on both occasions have come away from the game empty handed.
Manager Nas Bashir was boosted by the return of Jamie Hand from his loan spell at Luton, albeit I’m sure in the very short term, while missing through injury were both Yassin Moutaouakil and Luke Williams who will hopefully be fit for the festive fixtures with Ebbsfleet United.
Our visitors from the North-West started very quickly, forcing last ditch interventions on two occasions within the first ten minutes. First to test the United defence was Alan Goodall who collected a pass from Andy Mangan and hit a volley from 20 yards that skipper Curtis Ujah did well to deflect wide. Just two minutes later James Beasant was forced into his first save of the evening when a ball played over the United defence was taken on by Gareth Seddon who shot for the corner, Beasant pushing his shot away with Daniel Wishart doing the mopping up.
Beasant then comfortably held a Peter Cavanagh free-kick before being beaten in the fifteenth minute. Shaun Beeley crossed from the right and with the ball being headed into the air, it found its way to Keith Briggs 20 yards out and with time to look up he perfectly picked his spot in the top corner of the United goal.
The first real shot in anger from United came just before the half hour mark from the boot of the returning Hand, his fierce effort from all of 30 yards flying just inches over the Fleetwood goal.
It was not long though before United drew level. 36 minutes had elapsed when Pierre Joseph-Dubois helped the ball on to Tom Collins who controlled it and entered the Fleetwood box, holding off the attentions of his marker to fire a shot past Scott Davies in the visitors goal.
It fact with the equaliser nailed, it was United who finished the half the stronger and should possibly have gone in a goal to the good at half-time. Toby Ajala did well to win the ball in the Fleetwood box and after beating his man again he fed Joseph-Dubois but his shot took aminimal deflection off defender Steve McNulty and went agonisingly wide of the post.
United had another glorious chance in stoppage time when a long James Folkes throw was flicked on the Louie Soares who fired over the top from just outside the six yard box.
Fleetwood Manager Micky Mellon must have been worried at how strongly United ended the first half as within ten minutes of the re-start he had thrown on more forward ammunition in the shape of Jamie Vardy and Magno Vieira. Between the two substitutions, a 40 yard effort from Briggs had Beasant scrambling but thankfully the shot went wide of the target.
Just before the hour mark United were nearly caught out route one as a long punt from Davies was allowed to bounce and Vardy instantly lobbed the ball over Beasant but it drifted wide of the upright. Beasant then saved at the foot of his post from a Mangan free-kick which was quickly followed by a dipping volley at the other end from Ajala that only just cleared the goal.
Sixty seconds later sadly disaster struck as a long throw from Beeley was allowed to bounce in the United area and Vieira hooked the ball over his shoulder and perfectly into the corner of United’s net to give his side the lead once more.
The result was finally sealed as we entered the final ten minutes when Vardy broke into the United area and with both Wishart and Ujah in close attendance was brought down by Beasant as the United keeper made a genuine attempt to snatch the ball from his toes. Referee Mr Davies deemed this a red card offence and dismissed the young keeper.
With Joseph-Dubois sacrificed to allow Delroy Preddie to make yet another appearance from the bench, Mangan smashed home the spot kick to seal victory and a place level with Wrexham at the top of the table while United sit just inside the drop zone.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Pierre Joseph-Dubois.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.