Manager Phil Babb made three changes to the side knocked out of the FA Trophy the previous week as United looked to halt their poor run of results in recent weeks, against 6th placed Chelmsford City.
Matty Harriott and Nathan Elder returned to the side in place of the departed Louis-Rae Beadle and Pat Cox, while new loan signing from Boreham Wood, Greg Morgan, replaced the injured Jack Mills in midfield.
Grant Smith was in action quite early, needing to palm out a cross-come-shot from City’s Joe Ward who had made advances down the right flank, it was however Hayes & Yeading who took the lead in the 13th minute.
Lewis Ferrell’s long pass from halfway was neatly chested down in the area by Isaac Layne, Greg Morgan collected the ball just outside the arc and turned past his marker to line up a shooting chance only to be brought down by City skipper Mark Hughes. Gary MacDonald stepped up and placed his left footed kick precisely into the far top corner out of the reach of despairing ‘keeper Bradley Watkins (above).
City broke away on 20 minutes as a fine flowing move between Lee Sawyer, Michael Cheek and Ward saw the latter’s cross being controlled by the un-seen arm of Jason Williams setting up a volley for the striker that was swallowed up by Smith.
Seven minutes later United’s lead was doubled. Smith’s long clearance was headed on by Morgan to Layne, the Southend loanee moving past Yado Mambo and hitting a shot with his weaker left that deflected off the sliding Marvin Ekpiteta before finding the back of the City net (left).
With half-time approaching, United were caught out by Williams’ pace as he raced past Matt Ruby having collected a long clearance from City’s own box. The striker cut inside Dean Inman and hit a shot that was deflected wide courtesy of a superb sliding interception from Adam Everitt. The resultant corner dropped to Williams at the far post a couple of yards from goal, his overhead effort being headed (or faced) off the line by a well placed Ferrell.
Three minutes from the break the visitors got a lifeline when Morgan’s tackle on Sawyer in the area was adjudged to be a foul and referee Timothy Wood awarded a spot kick that Sawyer himself tucked away.
Early chances in the second half saw United’s MacDonald deflect a Rhodell Gordon effort wide and Michael Cheek got his head to a free-kick but headed wide of Smith’s goal. In between these efforts, at the other end, Morgan’s cross from the right was met by Nathan Elder but his header was also wide of the target.
Around the hour mark the visitors put some real pressure on the United defence as first Hughes was only inches too high having arrived to meet a corner at the far post and then minutes later another City corner, that appeared to be over hit, was headed back from beyond the far post by Ekpiteta to Hughes who met the ball sweetly on the volley only to be denied by an acrobatic tip over from Smith.
United were then dealt a blow when Elder went down heavy in making a tackle and had to be replaced by 17 year-old striker Dylan Kearney who was to hold his own at this level very well.
Corners were causing most of United’s problems, and another on 73 minutes saw the ball part cleared to Sawyer who worked the ball onto his left for a low shot through a crowded area that Smith did well to pounce on as two City players closed in.
Not surprisingly with just a couple of minutes to play, danger for United came from a City corner. The kick again being part cleared only for the visitors to recover possession on the left and Cheek’s cross found Williams who saw his low effort from the edge of the box go just the wrong side of Smith’s post.
Deep into stoppage time a deep free-kick was headed on by Hughes and met at the far post by a rising Williams but his header cleared Smith’s crossbar by a matter of inches leaving United a very hard fought and much needed three points to take into the Christmas programme at York Road.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Gary MacDonald.
Print the Teamsheet: Here.