Goalkeeper Bryan McMullan has often provided that vital last line of defence for United over the last number of seasons pulling of countless last gasp or point blank saves but last Saturday, and not for the first time either, he scored the equaliser to secure his team a valuable point.
The game started very badly for United as they conceded a goal in the first few minutes from a long throw which was flicked into the path of a Rathfern forward who volleyed the ball first time past Bryan McMullan. For the remainder of the half it was United on the attack with Paul Dickson and Aaron McCaffrey going close with a header and shot respectively as Adam Herron, Dalton Tate and Stuart McMullan combined consistently down the left wing to provide a series of half chances and force corner after corner.
Rathfern, for their part, were dangerous on the break and on more than one occasion Ross Hayes or Davy Boal had to be at their very best to stop the swift breaks while Bryan McMullan pulled off a few important saves.
Ethan Majury was moved into a more forward position for this game and was a willing runner in the absence of the injured Ian McMullan and his chasing down of defenders along with Gavin Crawford and McCaffrey caused the visitors some very uncomfortable moments.
The equaliser came five minutes from half time when Davy Boal fired in a shot from the right hand side of the penalty area which nestled in the side of the net having taken a deflection.
In the second half United started brightly but appeared to lose momentum and for long periods of the second half found themselves defending breakaways which required some solid defending from Hayes, Herron and an outstanding last ditch tackle from Dickson to save a certain goal. That combined with a close penalty shout made it almost inevitable that they would concede. That was the case in the 70th minute when a Rathfern forward broke through and scored although there was a hint of offside about it.
United were now up against it but they rallied with Scott Brashaw providing the leadership from midfield but Rathfern were not about to surrender their lead as they defended stoutly. The best chance fell to Tate who shot wide from close to the penalty spot. Greg Allison, a half time substitute, David Kelly and Gareth McMullan provided a more attacking focus with a string of free kicks being secured but none could be utilised to great effect.
The game was entering its final minute when United won a corner and up came goalkeeper Bryan McMullan to get on the end of cousin Stuart’s cross and head a superb equaliser.
This was not one of United’s better performances however they proved yet again that they have grit and determination. Next week they entertain local rivals Dromara Village in a Clarence Cup tie which has a 1.30pm kick off.