United entertained Barn United from Carrickfergus at Millbridge on Saturday last in a league game. The visitors, although bottom of Division 1B have been on the up in recent weeks so Unitedâ€™s manager Glynn Robinson was taking nothing for granted and any concerns he had were soon confirmed. The visitors came out the strongest and it would be fair to say that they were the dominant team and thoroughly deserved their interval 1-0 lead. They had scored from the penalty spot on the half hour mark when Alastair Coburn had brought down a forward as he weaved his way through the penalty area. Unitedâ€™s goal scoring opportunities were minimal except for a Daniel Rice effort that was well saved with Gavin Crawford putting the rebound wide.
A completely different United team came out for the second half as they chased an equaliser with Barn proving to be dangerous on the break. Lee Martin on his return from injury was introduced and manager Glynn Robinson took the gamble of bringing on a semi fit Gary Murray into the centre of defence with Scot Brashaw moving into central midfield to work alongside Gavin Crawford, Jack Davis, Ben Wilson and Alex Burtney.
That proved to be a masterstroke as United became even more dominant and in the 70th minute a touch of brilliance from Lee Martin brought the equaliser. The chance came when Brashaw blocked a pass on the half way line and surged toward goal before passing to the right wing to Martin. The teenager surged into the penalty area and despite being dispossessed by a defender he won the ball back before sending a fierce shot into the net. Unitedâ€™s ascendency was reduced marginally as Murray was withdrawn to ensure he did not aggravate his injury with Brashaw returning to his defensive position alongside Gregg Allison, Stuart McMullan and Alan Patterson.
Barn came back into the game and almost went ahead after 75 minutes however an exceptional double save by Coburn came to his teams rescue. Davis went into central midfield and became much more prominent in the closing quarter providing passes for Allison and Owen Oâ€™Neill on the right and Burtney or Stuart McMullan on the left while Ian McMullan chased every ball. It would be his perseverance that led to United winning the game but in quite bizarre circumstances.
As the game entered injury time Ian McMullan chased a through ball however the Barn goalkeeper came out and collected the ball. Unbelievably the keeper pushed the ball into McMullanâ€™s face and he was sent off by the referee who was left with no option but to award a penalty. Absolute mayhem followed and it took six minutes until the referee was able to calm things down for Alan Patterson to slot home the penalty despite a valiant effort to save it by the stand in keeper. The referee blew the final whistle as soon as the game restarted perhaps fearing some indiscipline which sadly proved to be the case. United will have considered themselves extremely fortunate to gain all three points welcome while a moment of madness led to Barn missing out on the point they deserved. This week travel to Dromara Village for a league game.
United travelled to Carrickfergus for this league encounter following their first win of the season the previous week. Barn United are currently positioned in the top four in the division so this would prove to be a stern challenge. The early exchanges were fairly even with Unitedâ€™s rear guard of Jack Davis, Alan Patterson, Scott Brashaw and Paul Dickson defending resolutely. In midfield Greg Allison, Gavin Crawford, David Kelly and Stuart McMullan kept possession of the ball whilst also preventing the home team from getting the ball to their dangerous forwards. Ian McMullan and Ross Murray worked tirelessly in their forward positions giving the Barn defenders little peace throughout the whole game.
Unitedâ€™s hard work was undone in the 35th minute when a Barn winger cut in from the left and ran across the penalty area before unleashing a shot which went into the net despite a great effort by John McMenamin to save it. Despite this set back United pressed forward and when they won a corner before half time Alan Patterson rose at the back post to head home Jack Davisâ€™s superb delivery. The second half followed the trend of the first with the home team taking the lead again after 65 minutes through a slice of good fortune when a deflected shot crept into the net despite McMenamin clawing it onto the post in a desperate attempt to save it.
As United pressed for an equaliser the game opened up and the home team almost took a two goal lead however McMenamin pulled off a spectacular save to keep his team in it.
Manager Alan Davis introduced all three of his substitutes, Ben Wilson, Alex Burtney and Corey Fitzpatrick, in an effort to breathe new life into his team and it most certainly did the trick. Birthday boy Ian McMullan was the hero for United as he ran onto a through ball to crash the ball past the home goalkeeper to give United a deserved and hard earned point.
Next Saturday United entertain Portaferry in a league game at Millbridge.
Everyone at the club would like to wish JJ Carlisle all the very best as he heads off to University in Portmouth.
It was good to see Alan Patterson visit the club this week and take in the Grove game.
Players are reminded that the memberships are due and should be paid as soon as possible.
INTERMEDIATE CUP 2ND ROUND
United entertained Irish League Championship Division 1 side Coagh United at Millbridge on Saturday before a large crowd, swelled by a big contingent from the County Tyrone village.
The early exchanges were quite even but as the game developed it was United who had the lion share of the play forcing a number of corners and interceptions from the Coagh United keeper.
The midfield of Hunter, Patterson, JJ Carlisle and Stuart McMullan were supplying good quality balls to Cheevers in particular who was causing all sorts of problems however no real scoring opportunities were created although Alan Patterson did cause the Coagh keeper to spill a few balls from crosses. Defensively United were strong with Boal, Hayes, Brashaw and Herron on top of anything that the visitors threw at them however it was obvious that they were going to be dangerous on the break.
Indeed that would be how the opening Coagh goal would come about when a long ball out from their defence fell kindly for their forward and as Hayes went to challenge him he noticed keeper Brian McMullan off his line and he lobbed a delicate shot over his head and into the net.
In the second half United continued to play neat attractive football and shortly after half time it took a superb save from the Coagh keeper to deny Stuart McMullan an equaliser. Soon after Coagh made it 2-0 when an attacking move down the left wing ended with a shot into the net from close range to give McMullan no chance.
United battled on in search of an equaliser and despite maintaining a good share of the play they failed to get on the score sheet. Substitutes Jay Smyth, Scott McKibbin and first team debutant McCauley Foster were introduced during the second half and they maintained the fluidity of the team but they were unable to break down an experienced and well drilled Coagh defence.
United entertained Bangor Rangers in this league fixture at Millbridge on Saturday – a day that was somewhat over shadowed by the news that they had drawn Premier League side Coleraine in the 5th Round of the Irish Cup.
Right from the start United were on the front foot hemming Bangor Rangers back into their half as they probed down the right and left wings through the runs of Aaron Cheevers and Stuart McMullan. They took the lead just short of the half hour mark when Alan Patterson ran onto a Johnny Hunter through ball. The Bangor keeper raced off his line to challenge for the ball but it broke to Cheevers who calmly slotted it into the empty net from twenty yards.
United continued to probe but they conceded a goal against the run of play when a long right wing cross evaded everyone and fell to a Bangor forward who controlled the ball before slotting it into the net despite the efforts of Brian McMullan. Undeterred United pressed forward and following a goal mouth scramble Ian McMullan side footed the ball into the net.
In the second half United continued to control the game restricting Bangor Rangers to the odd excursion forward leaving Brian McMullan generally as a spectator.
The midfield of Bowman, Hunter, Patterson and Stuart McMullan were very strong moving the ball about with confidence while defensively Davy Boal, Ross Hayes, Adam Herron and Scott Brashaw all went about their tasks with efficiency.
Numerous openings were created to extend their lead but it was not until the 75th minute that they increased it when Patterson again surged forward and unleashed a shot which was brilliantly saved by the Bangor keeper however in doing so it cannoned off a defender and looped into the net.
The full substitute bench of Carlisle, McKibbin and Smyth had been introduced midway through the second half and they played their part with McKibbin out pacing the Bangor defence on a number of occasions and being very unlucky not to score.
An excellent result which keeps United in the top four of the Division 1B league table as they go into Christmas and this weekends big local derby with Temple Rangers in the Clarence Cup.