Wellington Recreation provided the opposition at Millbridge for this vital league encounter with both teams occupying the relegation places in Division 1B. Despite an improvement in results the visitors fortunes have changed in recent weeks with their manager resigning while United have had some really encouraging performances particularly against table topping teams.
Obviously a win for the home team was essential and this was exactly what they got in more ways than one. From the outset United were on the front foot attacking on either flank driven on from central midfield by Gavin Crawford and Ben Wilson while Greg Allison and Jack Davis on the right and Stuart McMullan and Aaron Cheevers on the left. The breakthrough came in the 10th minute after a penetrating attack on the left wing saw Stuart McMullan cross for Greg Allison to shoot home. Wellington almost equalised moments later but Brian McMullan blocked the shot for what was his only serious save of the match. Greg Allison increased United’s lead on 21 minutes when he smashed the ball home after Aaron Cheevers had crossed from the right wing. On the half hour mark Matty Shaw crashed the ball off the crossbar.
Just before half time Stuart McMullan raced clear of the visitors defence and crossed for Greg Allison to head home and score his first hat trick for the first team. Wellington reorganised their defence to nullify the threat coming from United’s left flank however the emphasis changed to the right side and within ten minutes another two goals had been scored through headers from Matty Shaw and Gavin Crawford all from right wing crosses. Jack Davis, Matty Shaw and Aaron Cheever’s swarmed all over the visitors defence resulting in Cheevers scoring on the hour mark to make it 6-0. Jack Davis who has had a superb season since his promotion into the first team scored United’s seventh when he ran into the Wellington penalty area and crash a shot in from ten yards. United never let up in this game scoring a further three goals in the closing quarter with Gavin Crawford crashing a shot into the net from the edge of the penalty area and Aaron Cheevers slipping past the offside trap to score.
First team debutant Scott Cheevers came on for the closing quarter and he made an immediate impact by crashing the ball off the crossbar and in the final minutes he lobbed the onrushing keeper to score his first ever goal at this level and his teams tenth of the game. Defensively United coped easily with the odd forward excursion from the visitors and their back three of Dalton Tate, Scott Brashaw and Paul Dickson regularly joined the attack with Dickson sending several long range shots narrowly wide.
This win took United out of the bottom three but players and management are well aware that a lot of hard work remains to be done in the coming weeks and that starts with this weekend’s visit to Ballywalter.
United travelled to Newtownabbey to take on an 18th Newtownabbey side that has been performing well this season and whose ranks include a number of former Irish League stars.
The United line-up included a full debut for teenager Corey Fitzpatrick and what an outstanding showing he put in.
Aaron Cheevers gave United the lead however the home team equalised later in the half and could have gone ahead but for the brilliance of keeper Brian McMullan who saved a penalty.
In the second half United had a number of chances to score and should have had a penalty of their own which appeared to be more justifiable than the one awarded against them. As the game was approaching extra time the home team scored a rather fortunate goal to thwart United’s hopes of progressing in the competition.
This week United travel to Rathfern Rangers in a league game.
Ballynahinch United played Bloomfield on Saturday in an entertaining fixture. In the starting line up we had 16 year olds Alex Burtney and Jack Davis and manager Keith Hamilton can only be delighted with their contribution.
We got off to a terrible start when we conceded with a ball over the top in the opening minutes that was well finished by the visiting forward.
From that moment on United took control and started to play some free flowing football, driven on by the impressive partnership of Kennedy and Tate, who bossed the game all day long. It was 1-1 when Cheevers got on the end of a flowing move to finish well. United took the lead a few minutes later when the impressive Cheevers doubled his tally from a Kelly cross.
The second half started with the introduction of 17 year old Scott Cheevers who had a very impressive debut linking beautifully with brother Aaron to keep the visiting defence on edge. It wasn’t long until Aaron completed his hat-trick with a neat finish.
It was 4-1 to United midway through the second half when a lovely move fell into the stride of Jordan Kennedy, who took 2 touches and rifled the ball past the keeper from the edge of the box.
The 5th goal came from another 16 year old when Craig Tate took the ball down and beat the keeper impressively.
One of the highlights of the day was when Adam Herron made his comeback from injury after over a year out and he looked like he was never away.
With 8 first team regulars missing Keith Hamilton will have plenty of choices to make before the season starts.
Ballynahinch United got their preseason underway with a friendly against Mid-Ulster side Moneyslane at Millbridge last Saturday. Manager Keith Hamilton was missing a number of first team squad members, however it gave him the chance to give some of the youth team an opportunity to show what they can do and when the chance came they most certainly did.
The home side were on top for most of the first half with David Kelly running the midfield aided and abetted by Alex Miller, Gavin Crawford, Jordan Kennedy and Stuart Hunter.
Moneyslane came more into the game in the latter stages of the first half and early part of the second and defensively Greg Allison, Ross Hayes, Ethan Majury and Scot Brashaw were in commanding form while goalkeeper Brian McMullan came to the rescue on several occasions. Aaron Cheevers played up front on his own and his hold up play and distribution was excellent throughout.
United took the lead in the 30th minute when a bit of quick thinking by Cheevers led to a free kick being taken quickly for Kelly to lash it home past the visiting keeper.
During the second half four youth team players – Craig Tate, Alex Burtney, Ben Ohnuo and Jack Davis were introduced into the team and as they have been training with the seniors since late June they didn’t look one bit out of place. It was during the latter stages of the game that United increased their lead with two goals from Cheevers and Kennedy. In the 75th minute Aaron Cheevers latched onto a through ball and fired an unstoppable shot into the net while in the 85th minute Jordan Kennedy stepped up to score from the penalty spot.
This was a great start to the season however a lot of hard work has still to be done in preparation for the seasons start on 13th August at home to Wellington Rec. in the Steel & Sons Cup.
Training sessions continue each Tuesday and Thursday evening at the Millbridge and new players will be made very welcome.
Next Saturday afternoon [23rd July] United will entertain Bloomfield at the Millbridge.
United entertained Ballywalter Recreation in this league encounter at Millbridge last Saturday.
The visitors are struggling at the wrong end of the league table and were keen to take all three points from their hosts and their intentions were obvious from the kick off as they dominated possession. A stout defensive display from Adam Herron, Scott Brashaw, Davy Boal and Ethan Majury held them at bay with Bryan McMullan’s safe handling copper fastening their overall play. As the game progressed United became more of an attacking force with Aaron Cheevers causing problems with his surging runs aided and abetted by his forward partner Gareth McMullan who was holding the ball up well.
In midfield Dalton Tate, Stuart McMullan, David Kelly and Greg Allison defended and attacked in equal measure.
United took the led from the penalty spot after 35 minutes following foul on Gareth McMullan. A brilliant through ball out of central midfield sent Cheever free and as he surged into the penalty area he cut the ball back to Gareth McMullan who was pushed over as he went to shoot. Cheevers stepped up and slotted the spot kick confidently into the net.
Just before half time United lost experienced defender Adam Herron with a nasty injury which following attendance by the Ambulance Service and a visit to the hospital has been diagnosed as a fracture.
In the second half both teams attacked without creating any clear opportunities however in the closing quarter things changed significantly with both goalkeepers making excellent saves. Aaron McCaffrey went close on a number of occasions as United make every effort to secure the three points.
Manager Keith Hamilton introduced Ian McMullan to the game for the last quarter and his fresh legs created lots of problems for the visitors defence and in the 80th minute when he was released free on goal the Ballywalter keeper brought him down well outside the area and he received a red card. Minutes later Ian McMullan scored United’s second when his goal bound shot was deflected past the stand in keeper to make it 2 – 0. Craig McMullan made his comeback after being unavailable for a number of weeks and he combined with brother Stuart to make numerous forays down the left wing in the closing stages.
This was not one of United’s best displays however each and every player played their part in securing the win. The unfortunate injury to Adam Herron marred the success of the day and everyone at the club wishes him a speedy recovery. Adam is a very popular player senior player who has turned in numerous top class committed performances over the years and his team mates and the club’s supporters are looking forward to seeing him back in action very soon.