United returned to league action at the Millbridge for the first time in 2014 against their near neighbours the Hillsborough based Downshire YM who until recently have not been having the greatest of seasons. United entered the game with a plethora of changes due to the absence for a variety of reasons of experienced campaigners Davy Boal, Aaron Cheevers, Gavin Crawford, Ross Hayes and Simon Jackson from the previous week’s team.
The opening exchanges were even, however by the time United took the lead in the fifteenth minute they were dominating proceedings. A surge from defence by Scott Brashaw was not halted and as the defender took the ball to the edge of the six yard area he cut it back for Johnny Gibson to shoot home. The same player had almost scored minutes earlier when his long range shot cannoned off the crossbar with experienced Downshire YM keeper Brian Burgess well beaten.
United’s defence of Ethan Majury, JJ Carlisle and Scott Brashaw had their work cut out over the next fifteen minute period as Downshire prompted in midfield by former United player Matty Shaw laid siege to the home goal in which Brian McMullan’s handling was outstanding. The big keeper however was unable to stop the equaliser from the penalty spot on twenty five minutes after JJ Carlisle had been penalised.
After this flurry of goal scoring, clear cut openings were limited for the reminder of the game especially as the second half progressed with perhaps both teams afraid of losing. United’s midfield of Ian Boal, Lee Maxwell, Stuart McMullan and Johnny Gibson worked tirelessly to create openings while Ian and Gareth McMullan combined very well up front.
While the result may not have been to the pleasing of a good local support the introduction of teenagers Greg Allison and on his debut Jack Patterson gave them a glimpse of the future stars with neither in the slightest overawed.