For the second time in 15 days United ran promotion chasing Havant & Waterlooville all the way but sadly again fell short when Nic Ciardini struck a 73rd minute winner for the visitors at York Road on Sunday.
After an even opening ten minutes, both sides traded chances with seconds of each other. For the Hawks, Ciardini received the ball on the right corner of the area and hit a bouncing shot that Calum Kitscha was down quickly to gather.
Play quickly moved to the other end as Tom Derry found Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, the winger taking the ball to the bye-line before returning it to the on-coming Derry who saw his effort blocked wide by Hawks ‘keeper Ryan Young. From the resultant Mason Spence corner, Dean Inman threw himself into a diving header that beat Young only to come back off the post.
Ciardini was causing United problems and on 19 minutes his low centre was met at close range by Ben Wright, the effort being deflected wide by a well timed Greg Morgan interception.
Around the half hour mark a cross field Derry pass picked out Spence who came in from the right and hit a left footed shot that took a deflection before spinning wide of the far post.
With the break approaching, a long punted Ciardini clearance put Wright through on goal only for Kitscha’s diving touch to take the ball just outside the post. The resultant corner was again met by Wright who headed over Kitscha’s goal and we went in all square at the break.
The second half started well for United when just four minutes in the Hawks were controversially reduced to ten men. Ogedi-Uzokwe broke through on goal and despite Dan Strugnell appearing to get a toe on the ball before tripping the winger, referee Mr Knapp adjudged that a foul had been committed and as the last man a red card was shown.
With the extra man, United were playing some neat balls around. Morgan embarked on a run from his own half before testing Young from 20 yards. On the hour, Ogedi-Uzokwe robbed Cirardini of the ball deep in his own half and found Elliot Benyon who fired goalwards from 18 yards, forcing a good diving save from Young that his defence played clear.
Still level with twenty minutes to go, the Hawks decided to push for one of their own. Brian Stock swung the ball into the United box aiming for substitute JJ Hooper who was denied by Kitscha’s speed off his line as the ‘keeper managed to push the ball from the strikers path.
Two minutes later though the visitors struck the killer blow. Hooper broke on the right side before playing the ball to Ciardini who hit a shot from 18 yards that Kitscha may be a little disappointed not to have kept out having got a hand to the ball before it nestled in his net.
Six minutes remained when United created a golden opening to score what would have been a deserved equaliser. Morgan having been fouled still managed to help the ball to Derry, his cross from the bye-line sailed over Young’s reach to Benyon at the far post but he didn’t get enough on his effort and Young grabbed the ball on the line.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
Design Original Man of the Match: Elliot Benyon.
Print the Teamsheet: Here.