Manager Mickey Lewis fielded a team that included 4 of last years Academy graduates in the starting XI with a further 4 of this years crop on the bench for United’s first venture into the Southern League Challenge Cup against Hanwell Town.
United started well and could have embarrassed former United under-18 stopper Melvin Minter in just the fourth minute, the Town ‘keeper racing out of his box before miskicking his clearance straight to Sam Humphreys who tried an audacious lob from fully 40 yards that just cleared the crossbar.
Humphreys was again just off target shortly after and this was quickly followed by a cross-field James Harper pass that picked out Matt Sinclair on the left, the United player dancing through three tackles before clipping the ball past Minter only for Hanwell skipper Tom Duffy to clear the ball off the line.
Next to go close for the home side was Yannis Ambroisine who headed a Harper corner downwards only for Minter to claw the ball away as it approached the top corner.
The visitors first real shot in anger came on 23 minutes when a free-kick from Joe Chandiram beat the United wall but went wide of Louis Wells’ goal.
From being in command, United were reduced to 10 men in the 36th minute when Yassin Moutaouakil saw red when he appeared to lash out at a Hanwell player after he was felled by a hefty challenge that was not seen as a foul by referee Templey.
With the extra man, the visitors had the final chance of the half when Courtney Austin broke away on the right side, he pulled the ball back to Khale De Costa who saw his shot well blocked by Colin Mugoya with Chandiram’s follow-up blocked and cleared by Harper.
A few minutes before the hour mark a through ball to a very offside looking Austin saw him race to the United area only to be denied by Wells who pushed his shot away with the United defence completing the clearance.
Within minutes the deadlock was broken by United. Cole Brown, now playing as an emergency left-back, collected the ball on the flank and crossed to the far post where former Academy colleague Dylan Kearney rose above his marker to plant a perfect header over Minter and in to the far corner of the Hanwell net.
Sadly the lead lasted just 4 minutes, a cross played into the United box from the right took a strange bounce in the middle and struck debutant Brian Evans on the arm with referee Templey pointing straight to the spot. Chandiram stepped up and despite Wells going the right way, there was enough power in the kick to draw Hanwell level.
Despite being a man light, United still had the better chances to win the game. Harper’s first time shot from Ambroisine’s knock down was saved by Minter before a dipping effort from 25 yards by Hanwell’s De Costa only just cleared the United goal.
With just a few minutes remaining, Evans intercepted a poor pass out of defence by the visitors, his cross being met on the volley by Kearney who was denied by Minter as he was to be again within a minute and the match ended all square on 90 minutes meaning a penalty shoot out to see who progressed.
Harper stepped up for United’s first and was denied by Minter, Humphreys, Kearney, Olu Durojaiye and 16 year-old Lucas Sinclair all netted for United after Wells had saved Hanwell’s second spot kick by Jesse Kewley-Graham which left United 4-3 ahead with the tenth kick to come. Austin took the vital kick for the visitors and was denied by Wells who saved well to put United through to round 2.
Report by Kevin Watts.
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