Two late Tamworth goals turned three points into none for Nas Bashir’s Hayes & Yeading United side in a frustrating evening at The Lamb Ground.
Bashir made just one change from Saturday’s team, recalling fit again Fraser Franks for Diak John, meaning that Dan Spence switched again to left back. At first, it seemed as though the visitors would overrun their hosts as United powered forwards down the slope on numerous occasions in the early stages with Tom Collins, Louie Soares and Luke Williams all running assertively at the Tamworth defence. It was those three who combined for the first chance on six minutes when Soares turned in the box and fired goalwards but Jonathan Hedge blocked the ball with his legs.
Within a minute, Hector Mackie played Collins through on goal and the forward rounded Hedge, only to find the angle to the empty net rather acute and Francino Francis was able to recover and block his shot with his chest.
United continued to probe and it was the 14th minute when the breakthrough inevitably came. Williams’ throughball put Pierre Joseph-Dubois in behind the defence and Francis pushed him in the back just as he was about to get his shot away, leading to a penalty. Soares placed the ball low to Hedge’s left and although the keeper got a firm touch on it, the ball still found its way into the net.
With the lead, and such early domination, United would’ve been confident of a good evening, but it was Tamworth who responded. On 22 minutes, they had a golden chance to equalise when Steve Arnold collected Tom Cadmore’s backpass with his hands right in front of goal. The 6 yard box indirect free kick is quite rare in football but it usually produces a goal, so United’s defensive wall did well to charge out and block Paul Green’s fierce shot. Minutes later, Iyseden Christie thought he’d got the equaliser when his header hit the net, only to see the offside flag was up.
Tamworth were well and truly stirred now. Arnold saved smartly from Kieron St Aimie’s header and after Arnold’s misplaced kick from Mackie’s backpass, St Aimie was unable to beat the keeper again with a low shot. Christie also tested the United keeper before half time, but his best save came in the first half’s last moments when he pushed St Aimie’s header away when it looked to be heading for the bottom corner and the keeper was also grateful for Green’s wayward blast over the bar from the rebound.
After such a pulsating first half, the second half started with an inevitable dip in entertainment but ten minutes in, Christie was again denied by an alert Arnold who rushed out to block his lob. United turned defence swiftly into attack as Soares passed to Collins whose well hit shot was palmed away by Hedge.
Play then got bogged down into a scrappy spell but Christie was just wide with a header from Jay Smith’s free kick and at the other end, Williams almost caught Hedge out following a quick free kick but the keeper backpedalled to tip his angled shot over.
As time drifted on, Tamworth made some influential substitutions and took a stranglehold on the last ten minutes. Green’s deep corner was headed back into the danger zone by Patrick Kanyuka but once again, Christie was wayward with his shot. However, Tamworth’s probing did get their reward when Ashley Cain ghosted in through the left channel and he found St Aimie right in front of goal to tap in.
Arnold had to be alert to prevent an instant second goal, denying Christie who had volleyed the ball towards the goal. However, as play was just about to enter stoppage time, Tamworth turned the game completely on its head as substitute Kyle Patterson was found unmarked in front of goal and although he somewhat scuffed his volley, it spun away from Arnold and into the bottom corner.
Still, United almost got an equaliser right at the death through their own substitute, Ryan Crockford, but his shot into the turf bounced just beyond the far post.
Report by Nick Bell.
United Man of the Match: Curtis Ujah.