Hayes & Yeading’s continuously changing back-four is starting to give cause for concern as despite having the bigger amount of possession at The Valley Stadium, two sloppily conceded goals saw United leave The Valley Stadium pointless.
On the hosts new 3G surface the game kicked in at quite a pace with The Reds finding the net after just 17 seconds. A sloppy pass in the United midfield led to a break down the right side and into the United area whereby a cross was tapped in on the line by a very offside looking David McDermott but with no flag raised the goal stood and United were behind.
Within a minute Mickey Lewis’s side should have been level, Manny Adebowale rising to meet a James Harper corner at the far post only to head over the Reds goal. In the fifth minute the Reds almost doubled their lead when yet another stray pass by United was collected in midfield and worked forwards to Danico Johnson who held off Harold Joseph before hitting a shot on the turn that Louis Wells superbly tipped over.
Seconds later another golden chance for United went begging. Olu Durojaiye drove into the Reds box before playing the ball square past ‘keeper Bradley Catlow to Dylan Kearney, the striker playing the ball goalwards but with insufficient power which allowed Reece Hales to hack it away off the line.
Hales and the impressive Eli Bako then combined with Wells holding Hales’ shot and still within the opening 20 minutes another goalbound United effort was kept out, this time a stinging 25 yard Brian Evans drive that Catlow brilliantly tipped over.
After an insanely open first 20 minutes, the game seemed to go into a real lull with United holding a large amount of possession but finding it difficult to break down the Reds defence, which contained former United man Jordan Brown in the centre. The only other goalbound effort of the half came just before the break when a low Kearney drive from distance after he was set by Sam Humphreys, was held by Catlow.
United were forced into a change at the break with skipper Adam Everitt unable to continue through injury, it gave a chance to returning top scorer Lloyd Macklin who joined the fray.
It took just 3 minutes for United to even the score, James Harper’s free-kick being met by Joseph, who had edged in front of Bako, to plant a header beyond Catlow (above left). Within a minute United were denied what appeared from the side lines to be a stonewall penalty, Macklin broke into the Reds box and was about to shoot when he was sent tumbling from behind, however referee Hardisty waved away the appeals from players and fans alike.
A repeat of the United goal almost followed but Joseph’s header this time went wide and then almost immediately the United defence were split apart as Hales collected on the left and was allowed space and time to find Reece Hewitt on the edge of the box, he took a touch and fired past the covering defender into the bottom corner of Wells’ net to give the Reds the lead once more.
While United were to continue to hold the bulk of possession, getting through a stubborn Reds defence was not easy. Just after the hour mark Humphreys did well to charge down a Catlow clearance, the ball went out towards the right side where Kearney recovered the ball and crossed into the middle, Humphreys stepped over the ball thinking Macklin would have a better chance behind him only for Courtney to nick the ball away to safety.
With ten remaining and United pushing for the vital equaliser, a quick break away from the home side saw Danico Johnson receive the ball inside the United area but his shot on the turn was too high to trouble Wells.
Almost with the last kick of the game Catlow came to the home side’s rescue as Macklin raced into the box and although forced a little wide he got his shot on target only to be denied a deserved equaliser by the well spread Reds ‘keeper and it was game, set and match to the home side.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Harold Joseph.