United entertained Grove United in this NAFL Division 1B league match and yes if you had to have a second look at the score line, yes United did win and convincingly at that.
United have not had the best of seasons so far following the loss of a number of senior players who have chosen to play elsewhere however the club still retain a cadre of players who along with a strong group of young players have been working very hard to reverse the clubs fortunes. While Rome wasn’t built in a day manager Alan Davis and his assistant Paul Allison will have seen very positive signs from this performance.
Right from the start United were on the attack with a strong wind in their backs and on 15 minutes David Kelly waltzed through the visitors defence to slot the ball past the advancing keeper. On twenty minutes, team captain Gavin Crawford pounced on a loose ball to drive the ball into the Grove net from twenty-five yards.
Grove, despite going behind proved to be a constant threat and the United defence of Paul Dickson, Alan Patterson, Scott Brashaw and Jack Davis had to be on their toes while keeper John McMenamin blocked a number of shots to keep the visitors out. Ian McMullan and Ross Murray were proving to be a real handful for the Grove defence while the midfield of Stuart McMullan, David Kelly, Gavin Crawford and Gregg Allison worked tirelessly.
In the second half United faced an onslaught from Grove United however the defence held resolute with United having a number of forays forward and these proved to be productive when Ian McMullan scored a third on the hour mark after Stuart McMullan’s shot had come back off the crossbar. This took the pressure off somewhat however the visitors continued to cause problems particularly in midfield. The introduction of substitutes Ben Wilson, Alex Burtney and John Hill gave United extra energy to exploit defensive spaces that were created as Grove pressed for a goal. United’s fourth came when Alex Burtney found space on the left side of the penalty area and while his initial shot was saved he passed the ball across the six-yard area for Gregg Allison to side foot home.
There was a universal sigh of relief and justified excitement amongst players, management, committee and supporters alike when the final whistle was sounded. While there are many hurdles to be overcome throughout the season, this performance, if it can be repeated on a more consistent basis gives more than a glimmer of hope.