United entertained one of the Division 1B favorites on Saturday last and despite a valiant performance they were well beaten.
East Belfast arrived at the Millbridge having only lost one league game and from the kick off they were rampant moving the ball with speed and accuracy. United who were missing a raft of experienced players withstood this early onslaught with Brashaw, Majury, Herron, McCaffrey and Stuart McMullan making some timely tackles and goal keeper Bryan McMullan a few vital saves.
The visitors defence were getting things fairly easy in the opening ten minutes but once United got possession things changed and the pace of Cheevers caused them major problems.
East Belfast took the lead after 15 minutes when a speculative shot from outside the penalty area struck the inside of the post and went in giving McMullan no chance.
On 20 minutes Aaron Cheevers broke free and as he raced towards the penalty area he was pulled back and United were awarded a free kick. The lively midfielder took the kick himself and his superbly placed cross was touched over the line by Gareth McMullan.
The game became more even and the East Belfast defence were coming under increased pressure. Unfortunately an overzealous challenge from forward Ian McMullan was punished with a straight red card and the visitors capitalised on their numerical superiority. During a penalty area scramble one of their players went down following a fairly innocuous challenge and they scored from the penalty spot. As half time approached United’s inability to clear their lines gave East Belfast the opportunity to increase their lead and they took it with open arms.
In the second half United came out with a renewed spirit and despite having a player less they dominated play for the majority of the half with Kelly, Tate, Cheevers and Stuart McMullan in the thick of things. Teenage substitutes Graeme McMullan and Jack Patterson also made a contribution but despite all their possession the team lacked that killer instinct.
Having soaked up everything that United could throw at them the visitors came more into the game and despite having a player sent off in the closing minutes they scored again late on.