Hayes and Yeading United began their defence of the Ryman Youth League West Division with a fairly comfortable 3-1 victory against a combative Northwood side, who nevertheless had their promising moments.
Northwood started brightly and having earned a free kick, Will Holland shot direct but into Sean Meaney's waiting arms. From a similar distance, but from open play, United had their first shot on target. Dan Callen crossed for Cole Brown whose shot on the turn was gathered in off the bounce by Phillip Daniels. Callen was again the provider, but this time for Matt Sinclair, whose curling shot was well watched and fielded again by Daniels.
As the game developed, the away side began to assert themselves more and after a quick break involving Timon Khyne-Sam and Sinclair was snuffed out, a quick and clever near post corner by Palmiro Cabo-Verde was flicked just over by Sinclair.
Callen again crossed for Brown soon afterwards and he cut inside before unleashing a powerful shot which clipped the bar on the way over. Then, Sinclair broke clear but in trying to round Daniels, the Woods keeper timed his challenge perfectly. From the resulting corner, Dylan Kearney headed onto the roof of the net, and from the next, he really ought to have scored, but his point blank header failed to trouble the keeper.
After a period where Northwood recovered defensively without really threatening at the other end, Kearney seized upon some hesitancy from Jordan Williams but his shot was deflected over thanks to a brave block by Charlie Carroll. However, the same player got his reward on 33 minutes as he broke away from the high Woods defensive line, knocked the ball beyond the on rushing Daniels and fired the ball into the empty net.
United continued to dictate play, and Daniels had to show good handling to catch Sinclair's long shot before Khyne-Sam headed Cabo-Verde's free kick onto the roof net. However, in the 40th minute, out of the blue, a stunning long range effort from Louis Moriarty, cannoned in off the underside of the bar, giving Meaney no chance.
Stung by this setback, United made the perfect response as Kearney chased a loose ball across the area and drilled the ball back into the area for Brown to slam into the net, bravely taking a whack from his marker in doing so. Aside from a bit of a scramble in the area from a free kick which came to nothing, United were able to keep this one goal advantage through to half time.
Just four minutes into the second half, Kearney extended the lead latching onto Cabo-Verde's perfectly weighted throughball and beating the offside trap and with Khyne-Sam in support to his right offering a distraction to Daniels, Kearney was able to slot in his second and United's third.
Brown almost added his second soon afterwards, beating his man before firing in an angled shot which Daniels beat away. Brown then set up Sinclair for a similar chance through the left channel which Daniels managed to kick away. Brown then hit a great shot inches wide of the far post having cut inside from the left flank.
Despite this pressure and the two goal lead, Northwood never seemed out of it and Holland hit another dangerous free kick which went through the wall but was held by Meaney. Play hit a lull amongst a flurry of injuries and substitutions but a swift break saw Kearney release Owen Cummins beyond the defence, but Daniels blocked his shot and from a tight angle, the second effort went into the side netting. However, United were able to comfortably hold off any threat of a comeback and earn a win to kick off their season.
Report by Nick Bell.
United Man of the Match: Cole Brown.