Clarence Cup Round 1 – view photos.
This much awaited Clarence Cup tie which had been postponed three times since it was originally scheduled for Saturday 22 December took place at Millbridge on Saturday. The large attendance was one of the biggest turn outs at a local match for some considerable time and was evidence if any was needed at the popularity of the local game and particularly in a derby setting.
United went into this game seriously depleted missing no less than six first team regulars – Adam Herron, David Boal and Johnny Hunter [Suspended], Alan Patterson [Injured] and Scot Brashaw and Jay Smyth [Unavailable]. While this certainly stretched United’s squad it gave manager Colin Murray the chance to bring in some of the clubs youthful talent with Greg Allison stepping up from the Swifts and the surprise inclusion of Paul King who is an Albion regular.
From the kick off United were on the attack and after nine minutes they went into the lead when some excellent approach play resulted in Aaron Cheevers crossing onto the edge of the six yard box and Ian Boal slotted the ball into the net past Alistair Coburn.
Despite this advantage United just did not press on and rarely troubled the Temple defence despite winning quite a few corners.
In the second half Temple Rangers came out strongly and generally dominated play however United’s defence was well marshalled by Hayes, Carlisle and Foster with Brian McMullan having little to do.
Temple equalised on the hour mark which really lit the game up because whilst they were getting plenty of possession they were not really doing that much with it. The goal came from a long throw with McDowell sliding the ball into the path of defender who scored from the edge of the penalty area with a scorching drive.
Minutes later they were 2-1 up when a long ball into the United penalty area found its way into the net whether as an own goal or a header from substitute Lee Maxwell whatever the way of it he may not have known much about it.
United had a major problem at this stage and to their credit they rose to the occasion with the introduction of Bingham, Allison and King giving them fresh legs.
The equaliser came in the 87th minute when great work from Stuart McMullan on the left wing ended with a cross into the penalty area which the Temple defence failed to deal with and as the ball fell on the edge of the penalty area Paul King lashed it into the roof of the net for his first senior goal on his debut. In the closing seconds of the game United almost snatched the win when Gareth Bingham latched onto a loose ball and fired towards an unguarded goal from the edge of the area but his effort went narrowly wide.
The game went into two periods of extra time during which Temple lost their veteran keeper Alistair Coburn with a dislocated finger which meant that Paul Dickson had to take his place.
All too soon it was time for the penalty shoot-out which would provide as much excitement as what had gone before. Temple Rangers changed their goal keeper for the penalty shoot-out which proved a master stroke bringing in forward Adam McDowell in place of Paul Dickson.
First to take a penalty was Temple’s Matty Shaw and he blazed it high over the bar but United didn’t take advantage with David Kelly’s effort saved by McDowell. McDowell took the next one himself scoring past McMullan with precision. Scott McKibbin took United’s second penalty and he scored to bring the scores level. Brian McMullan got into the penalty saving act when he kept out Lee Maxwell’s effort. Stuart McMullan had the chance to put United in front but he saw his strike palmed round the post by McDowell. Temple substitute Johnny Dickson converted his effort confidently to make it 2-1. United’s Paul King needed to convert his to level the scores but he was thwarted by McDowell and it was left to Carberry to win the cup tie which he duly obliged with a confident strike to give McMullan no chance.
Disappointment for United who will wonder what might have been had they not have had so many senior players missing however on a positive note their depleted squad with so many youngsters in it never gave up and they could have won it in the dying minutes of normal time. Temple battled hard throughout and shaded the game on chances created but then again neither goal keeper was that seriously troubled in either normal or extra time.
Temple go on to meet Civil Service in the 2nd Round of the Clarence Cup a game they can certainly win.