United entertained Ballywalter Recreation in this league game at Millbridge on Saturday. The weather conditions and the pitch were in excellent condition for the start of this game however things would be a lot different in the second half. United started the brighter against a Ballywalter team who are struggling at the bottom of the league and they went close on a number of occasions in the early stages. A Jay Smyth shot sailed over the cross bar while the Ballywalter goalkeeper and his defenders managed to block efforts from Steven Kennedy and Ian McMullan.
United sent wave after wave of attack on the Ballywalter defence and it was from a long throw in the 21st minute from McCauley Foster that they took the lead thanks to a couple of defensive deflections and the intervention of Ian McMullan who claimed the last touch.
Any hopes that this would open the flood gates were sadly mistaken as Ballywalter staged a number of counter attacks in search of an equaliser and United’s defensive formation of Hayes, Foster and Brashaw had to be at their very best along with Brian McMullan who pulled off a number of good saves. In midfield Stuart McMullan seemed to be on the end of all of United’s attacks while Cheevers, Smyth and Hunter passed the ball about with ease.
United will have been disappointed that they had not increased their lead by half time particularly as the weather was deteriorating with sleet and snow falling. The good attendance of spectators who were huddled at every sheltered location around the ground were looking for some sparkling football and more goals to cheer them up in the second half but that is not the way things would turn out.
Ballywalter to their credit pressed forward at times hemming United into their half and the introduction of substitutes Ian Boal, David Kelly and Adam Herron whilst strengthening United defensively failed to inject that extra spark into attack.
Several long range efforts from Ian Boal caused the Ballywalter defence some discomfort and Ian McMullan shot narrowly wide while the running of Aaron Cheevers led to a number of free kicks in decent positions but Johnny Hunter could not conjure up any magic.
In the closing minutes Johnny Hunter put in an outstanding tackle to clear the ball for a corner after a Ballywalter forward was put through on goal. Not long after the referee blew the final whistle to bring proceedings to an end and give United a hard earned three points.
Supporters should keep in touch with club officials this week regarding the next league fixture as although United are supposed to be away to Immaculata in the league they are supposed to be playing in the Clarence Cup that day.