United entertained Newcastle in a Division 1B league fixture at a very sunny Millbridge last Saturday.The two teams had met the week before at the Shimna Integrated School in what was a fairly tame scoreless affair however this one turned out to considerably livelier and with a considerable bit more controversy. United plans were somewhat upset when Ross Hayes reported with a back injury and had to drop out of the team at the last minute.
Right from the kick off the home side were on the offensive and surprisingly Newcastle seemed content to soak up the pressure with ten men behind the ball for most of the half. Their attacking opportunities were limited to breakaways by this tactic and a superbly well marshaled defence in which Brashaw, Carlisle, David Boal and Craig Bowman performed brilliantly were allowed to orchestrate many of their sides attacking moves.
Unfortunately for United they were unable to create any clear cut opportunities giving Baker in the seasiders goal a relatively quiet first half.
In the second half the early exchanges were controlled by Newcastle however they left themselves susceptible to the pace of United’s two forwards Ian McMullan and Aaron Cheevers who both missed good scoring opportunities in the first fifteen minutes of the second half.
The controversial moment of the second half and what possibly turned the game occurred on the hour mark. Ballynahinch United were awarded a free kick on the edge of their penalty area which was taken quickly by keeper Brian McMullan. The ball was launched into the Newcastle penalty area and it was chased by Ian McMullan who went for the ball in a clear 50/50 with keeper Paddy Baker. When the two players collided the ball appeared to come off McMullan’s hand and ended up in the back of the net. The referee who was well behind play did not and would not have been unable to see any hand ball infringement awarded the goal despite the protests of the Newcastle players.
This stroke of good fortune for United spurred them on and within five minutes they were 2-0 up when Ian McMullan pounced on a loose ball to score past the despairing dive of Baker.
Newcastle pressed hard to get back into the game but United held firm with Stuart McMullan, David Kelly, Scot McKibbin and Johnny Hunter working overtime in midfield to support their defence. Substitutes Smyth and late in the game Patterson played their part in securing three precious points that see United maintaining second spot in the league ahead of a run of at least two weeks when they play cup matches.
The game ended with a Newcastle player being sent off for a robust tackle on Boal and a number of booking for players for both side although the game was generally played in a good spirit.
This Saturday United entertain local rivals Dromore Amateurs who they have not played for a number of years. The Dromore team are currently playing in Division 1C and have been on a good run of late and United certainly not be taking them lightly. The kick off is at 1.30pm.