Hayes & Yeading’s longest trip of the season was made on a sunny August afternoon as Phil Babb’s side travelled to North Somerset to face Weston-super-Mare at Woodspring Park and came home with a point after conceding a late leveller.
United started in a somewhat surprising 3-5-2 formation but started well with the first opening coming in just the fifth minute when Pat Cox met a deep Gary MacDonald cross but his header went the wrong side of the Seagulls post.
The home side soon came into the game though, exploiting the gaps down the United flanks that the fledgling formation seemed to give up. Alec Fiddes broke away down the right, cut into the United area and played the ball past the out-coming Calum Kitscha towards the near post where only an excellent Dean Inman interception prevented Jamie Lucas from being gifted a tap-in.
Just a minute later though the Seagulls did take the lead when a corner from the left evaded Kitscha and appeared to strike the on-coming Tom Jordan on the shin before rolling straight into the net.
Three minutes later United really should have been level when a long Kitscha clearance was helped on first by Cox and then by Ashleigh Artwell sending Joe Anyinsah through on goal, by the time the ball had been controlled he was under pressure from Liam Dempsey and the United striker dragged his shot wide of the upright from about eight yards.
With the half hour mark approaching it was nearly defensive suicide by United when a poor Fabio Bufano back-pass saw Kitscha try and block with his body as Lucas arrived, the United keeper quickly pouncing on the ball although he was adjudged to have been fouled anyway.
A tactical switch by Phil Babb minutes later saw Bufano replaced by Dan Wishart as United switched to a more familiar formation.
With the break almost upon us, both sides had good chances to change the scoreline as twice the home side went close, Fiddes receiving a short corner before trying to curl one in the far corner but just missing then in stoppage time a 20 yard effort from the impressive Dayle Grubb looked destined for the top corner but for an excellent tip away by Kitscha.
In between the aforementioned chances United created an opening of their own as Adam Everitt’s free-kick was met on the volley in the centre by Inman but his shot went straight into the midriff of Seagulls keeper Luke Purnell.
Phil Babb made two more changes at the break with Anyinsah and De’Reece Vanderhyde replaced by Frankie Merrifield and Rhys Murrell-Williamson respectively and it was these changes that seemed to liven the United attack.
In fact it took just three minutes for United to pull level. Everitt played a free-kick into the area that Cox rose to power goalwards only to be denied by a superb claw out by Purnell who was then beaten by Matt Ruby who was quickest to the loose ball.
United immediately looked to up the ante and push for another. Merrifield fed Murrell-Williamson on the right, he cut inside and hit a curling shot that went just the wrong side of the post before all three substitutes and Inman combined to create another opening. Wishart played the ball in from the left, Inman managed to toe the ball to Murrell-Williamson who pulled it back to Merrifield but his effort was too high to trouble Purnell.
In the 65th minute United deservedly took the lead when Wishart collected the ball on the right and made his way through tackles across the front on the box before hitting a low left foot shot that nestled right in the corner of Purnell’s net.
The Seagulls finding themselves in arrears started to push on themselves, Fiddes found Lucas up the right flank, his deep cross picked out Grubb at the far post but his downward header was well stopped by Kitscha.
With just nine minutes to play, Everitt made what to all and sundry (except the man with the whistle) appeared to be a perfect defensive tackle outside the area only for referee Mr Plane to award the Seagulls a free-kick. With the wall lined-up, Kitscha appeared to take up a strange position behind it leaving a gaping hole to his right which Aaron Brown duly exploited, leaving the United keeper stranded, to fire the Seagulls level.
Only one real opening came after this and but for a fine Purnell save United would have been bringing home all three points. Merrifield dancing past two tackles in the Seagulls area before cutting back a shot against the grain that Purnell did well to get down to diving to his left.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Dan Wishart.