United’s under 18 side looked a little jaded on Wednesday evening as they dropped points for the first time this season against a vastly improved Bedfont Sports side.
With seven of United’s youngsters being called up by Middlesex on Saturday and a further four playing for the reserves on Monday night it was maybe not surprising that tiredness started to show in this Ryman Youth League fixture but let’s not take anything away from the visitors as they matched United in every area and fully deserved to at least take the point that they did.
The visitors started well, albeit actually playing on their own ground, but after weathering the early storm without fear of conceding it was United who broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when Jalon Rowe threaded the ball forwards to Tamille Roach, the winger advancing to the corner of the area before firing across Sports keeper Tyler D’Cruz and in off the far post.
Minutes later Tyler Wootton in the United goal did well to get a punch onto an in-swinging corner and when the ball dropped to Joe Jackson on the edge of the box, his firmly driven shot cleared the United crossbar.
United looked to have doubled their advantage in the 12th minute when Gil Cravid’s centre was brought under control by Prince Mbengiu, his shot on the turn looked to be heading for the top corner only for D’Cruz to superbly claw the ball around the post. Seconds later Mbengiu went even closer when he latched onto a Roach cross only for his shot to go wide off the post.
The last close shave in the first half came at the midway point when Wootton had to dive full stretch to push a Darryl Saunders free-kick around the post. The resultant corner was floated to the far post where James Greenwood was only inches wide with his header.
Minutes into the second half United had a “goal” chalked off when Josh Odunwo’s overhead kick was ruled offside, something the Sports were to suffer in stoppage time also.
Just after the hour mark the Sports drew level as the ball was played through the centre of the United defence, Tom Marr was outpaced by Sports substitute Curtis Proverbs, the striker placing his shot beyond Wootton into the bottom corner.
The final quarter of the game saw defences on top with Sports central defender Joel Upjohn particularly impressive in keeping the United attack at bay. The closest United came was a Shariff Wilson volley that just missed the target while at the other end Wootton was in control with the Sports best chance again falling to Proverbs but he was denied a shot by a superbly timed Marr tackle just inside his own area.
Report by Kevin Watts.
United Man of the Match: Tyler Wootton.