United travelled to New Grosvenor last Saturday for this league encounter with Sirocco Works. It was the visitors who were out of the traps first and very quickly took command of the game and probably should have been two or three up by half time.
United’s early forays into the Sirocco penalty area were generally through the efforts of Johnny Gibson on the left wing and it was Gibson in the 10th minute who gave them the lead when he latched onto a through ball from Scott Brashaw to lift the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net.
Sirocco were having difficulty keeping pace with United’s excellent first time passing and after 20 minutes Aaron Cheevers should have doubled their lead when he ran through but he hit his shot over the cross bar.
As the first half went into its closing quarter the home side created a few scoring chances requiring goalkeeper Brian McMullan to make several fingertip saves.
In the second half there was a transformation in the Sirocco line up and they forced United onto the defensive. The defence of Hayes, Brashaw and Davy Boal required support from Stuart McMullan and JJ Carlisle and generally they were able to cope with what was thrown at them. Sirocco did have the ball in the net on 55 minutes but it was correctly ruled off side.
Ian Boal and Gavin Crawford in central midfield were unable to get the same control of the ball they had in the first half to give forwards Ian McMullan and Johnny Gibson any openings.
Lee Maxwell was introduced to the action on the hour mark and later David Kelly came into the fray and it looked as if United would hold on to their lead. Indeed they should have doubled the score after 75 minutes when quick thinking from Ian McMullan gave Ian Boal a chance but he skied his shot over the cross bar.
That missed opportunity proved very costly as things turned out because United conceded a penalty in the 80th minute when Hayes was very harshly adjudged to have pushed an attacker and Brian McMullan was unable to get near the resulting spot kick.
The closing ten minutes of the game were feisty to say the least and the referee failed to get a grip on some off the ball incidents which could and should have led to red cards. Indeed it appeared to be United players who found themselves in the referee’s notebook.
This week United entertain highflying neighbours Drumaness Mills in the first round of the Intermediate Cup at The Millbridge. The kick-off is at 1.30pm and a big attendance is anticipated. Due to a reduction in the available parking space at the Millbridge spectators are requested to get their early.