And so we arrived at the final game of the season and thankfully without the drama of last season’s finale against Dover Athletic. This season’s final opposition are St Albans City whom United had opened the season against, coming home from Clarence Park with a 1-0 victory to kick off the campaign.
Tristan Lewis stuck with the same starting XI that had won away at Concord the previous week and indeed it was United who were to have the chances in the opening half hour while not overly holding the balance of possession, a testament to how well the United defence has re-grouped under Tristan’s leadership.
An early snapshot from Luke Williams, after he had taken possession from Darren Green 25 yards out, saw the ball whistle just wide of the upright and then the same player swung in a free-kick from the right that was met well by Christian Smith, his header drawing a good save from Saints ‘keeper Joe Welch.
George McLennan then went close after the wide man got on the end of a Dylan Kearney centre before Grant Smith saw his first real action of the half when an massive long throw-in from Lee Chappell was flicked on to former United striker Michael Malcolm, his overhead kick going nicely straight at Smith for a comfortable catch.
The Saints were starting to find something going forwards now and soon went close when a deep corner found Omar Beckles at the far post but his header just cleared the United crossbar and it was goalless as referee Fissenden called for half-time.
Seven minutes into the second half, another long Chappell throw caused problems in the United defence, the ball looping off a United head and just missing the top corner by a fraction. The resultant corner was left by Grant Smith as he assumed the ball was curling out of play, only for Danny Green to head it over the ‘keepers head with Christian Smith doing well to head clear from in front of his unprotected goal.
The Saints were now starting to get up a head of steam going forwards, Smith did well to touch a Frendo effort wide after the striker broke into the box and then the same player was only just off target having collected a pass from another former United man in the form of Sam Corcoran.
On 78 minutes, just a minute after influential skipper Dean Inman had left the field through injury, the visitors broke the deadlock. Chappell’s free-kick from 25 yards out struck the defensive wall and dropped perfectly to Malcolm who volleyed from an angle across Smith into the far corner.
Two minutes later United had a great chance to pull level. Greg Morgan broke on the right side, his deep centre was recovered beyond the far post by substitute Robbie Matthews who crossed back to Morgan who brought the ball down and shot goalwards only for Welch to stand tall and block the effort away for a corner.
This was to be United’s last real opening as the Saints pushed on. Frendo was presented with a free header in front of goal from Malcolm’s cross but headed straight at a grateful Smith before number two came a minute from time. Lowe broke away and raced into the United area, his shot beat Smith but came back off the far post, straight to fellow substitute Steve Wales who smashed the ball into the net.
United at this point went down to ten men as with all changes made, Luke Williams had to leave the field with an injury and did not return. The Saints took advantage of this to score a third in the sixth minute of added time, Lowe’s shot was blocked but the loose ball ran to Frendo who had the simple task of moving past Smith before rolling it into an empty net.
So we end with a defeat but with all the good news in recent weeks in relation to earning the right to compete in this division next year on our own merit and the fantastic work of Chairman Tony O’Driscoll in securing the funding to get us back home all I can say is have a great summer, keep the faith and see you next season. Kev.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
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