United entertained Belfast side Rathfern Rangers at Millbridge in this league encounter.
The home team were without the injured Ethan Majury and the suspended JJ Carlisle and the Boal brothers however they welcomed back Adam Herron into the match day squad. The early exchanges were even with both teams pressing for the advantage although the visitors had been lucky when their goal keeper dropped a corner ball against the post and his defence managed to get it scrambled away.
Ian McMullan who has been on the score sheet regularly in recent weeks added to his tally after 25 minutes when he was on hand to take advantage of a collision between goalkeeper and central defender to bundle the ball over the line. He was making up for missing a chance a minute earlier when he headed wide from a Johnny Gibson cross. After this Rathfern picked up the pace and caused the United defence of Scott Brashaw, Ross Hayes and Stuart McMullan considerable problems while goal keeper Brian McMullan was in outstanding form foiling several one on ones to keep a clean sheet before half time.
The start of the second half saw United take a 2-0 lead within minutes of the kick off. A good passing movement through midfield involving David Kelly and Gavin Crawford found Aaron Cheevers free and he chipped the ball over the Rathfern defenders into the path of Lee Maxwell who chipped the ball over the advancing keeper into the net.
Moments later United should have had a third goal when Ian McMullan was put through by cousin Gareth McMullan but the referee ruled that he was offside. A moment of indiscipline in the 70th minute saw David Kelly dismissed for retaliation after he was clearly hit in the face off the ball and as a result Manager Keith Hamilton sacrificed a forward by introducing Jay Smyth to the midfield as the United defence was under a fair bit of pressure. Stuart McMullan playing in a much deeper position than usual was in inspirational form regularly emerging with the ball from dangerous positions.
The experienced Adam Herron and later Nathan Farquhar were introduced to the fray and they were involved in a number of attacking moves which put United back on the offensive. From a corner Ian McMullan appeared to be punched by the Rathern keeper who was dismissed however instead of awarding a penalty as the ball was in play which would have sealed the game for United he inexplicably gave a bounce ball.
United’s steel and determination came to the fore in the closing stages of this game and they saw the game out. This was another good display from United who are at home again next week against Ballywalter Recreation.