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.
United travelled to East Belfast for this league encounter against Bloomfield at Orangefield velodrome which is the only cycling facility of its type in Northern Ireland.
From early on in the game United took control and spent most of the first half camped in the Bloomfield half however they failed to bring the home goal keeper into any serious action. The same could not be said for United’s Brian McMullan who whilst spending most of the afternoon spectating pulled off one of his best saves this season which played a major role in his team’s success. In the 43rd minute Bloomfield broke clear on the right wing and their centre forward raced onto the edge of the six yard box to receive a great pass from his team mate. Just as he was about to shoot into the net defender Ethan Majury managed to block the shot but it was still heading into the goal until Brian McMullan dived to palm it around the post for a corner.
In the second half United came out full of purpose and were ahead in the 50th minute when Stuart McMullan was released on the right wing following interplay between Dalton Tate and Gavin Crawford. He cut into the penalty area and toe poked the ball into the net past the advancing keeper. Having controlled the game up to this stage United seemed to lose their composure and it took some solid defending from the back line of Majury, Hayes, Boal, Brashaw and Herron to stem a steady stream of Bloomfield attacks. In the 65th minute Bloomfield were reduced to ten players when their No. 5 was dismissed for a second yellow card which could easily have been a straight red following a rather nasty tackle.
At this stage United were enjoying much more possession and in the 70th minute they were 2 – 0 up when Aaron ‘Beattie’ McCaffrey got on the end of a cross to score into the roof of the net off the keeper. ‘Beattie’ who has been an ever present in the team following some excellent seasons with the Swifts has been a hard working partner to Ian McMullan however the goals just didn’t seem to go in for him so was this was a well-deserved success.
For the closing quarter manager Keith Hamilton replaced his forward line with Gareth McMullan and Greg Allison and they provided a constant threat with Gareth McMullan’s first touch, a lob shot from ten yards, drifting over the crossbar while Greg Allison had a few long range shots which went narrowly wide.
This was another good team performance with every player contributing to a well-earned three points which take United into 3rd place however this Saturday they will have to be at their best to take on an improving Sirocco Works side that after a poor start to the season have been picking up points in recent weeks. The game kicks off at 2pm at Millbridge.
United entertained East Belfast team Bloomfield at the Millbridge last Saturday in a league fixture hoping to build on the previous week’s excellent victory over Downshire YM. The visitors have had some good results of recent and were expected to provide stiff opposition and so it turned out to be. Despite having a good share of the play United were unable to convert the chances they created and midway through the first half they went 1 down and despite a spirited response they could not get level.
The half time team talk certainly had a very positive effect because United came out all guns a blazing and were level very quickly with a goal from Paul Dickson who was making his first appearance in the team for a month following suspension and holidays. Dickson converted after excellent work by Dalton Tate. Not long after their equaliser United went 2 – 1 ahead when Ian McMullan converted following some tenacious work from Tate.
The visitors pressed hard to get level but they found Brian McMullan and his defensive colleagues in a very determined mood. All over the pitch the players put in an outstanding shift and as Bloomfield risked more and more players forward they left themselves vulnerable and so it turned out to be when Gavin Crawford scored to put the game out of reach.
Manager Keith Hamilton will be very pleased with this result and the recent good run of results which his hard working team have achieved.
United travelled to Hillsborough for this league game against old rivals Downshire YM. In recent seasons games both home and away between the teams have generally been drawn so a tight match was expected and so it would be.
The home side started in lively form but United were well organised with the experienced Scott Brashaw and Adam Herron back after missing last week’s game due to the wedding of central defender Ross Hayes who was still absent along with Paul Dickson. A surprise but welcome inclusion in the team was Gregg Allison who has not played in the team due to injury.
The United back three of Brashaw, Boal and Stuart McMullan along with goalkeeper Brian McMullan were in dominant form sweeping the ball across their line with ease while midfielders Crawford, Tate, Herron and Kelly worked tenaciously supplying the willing runners of Allison, Ian McMullan and McCaffrey with good possession.
In the first half Allison was the focus point for most of United’s attacking and it was he who was fouled for the penalty which eventually won the game. A superb through ball from Crawford saw Allison run in on goal only to be bundled over by a Downshire central defender. Referee Munn awarded the penalty and David Kelly dispatched it into the net sending the keeper the wrong way.
In the second half United were once again the dominant force however Downshire were dangerous on the break and Brashaw, Stuart McMullan always had to be on their guard. United almost doubled their lead early in the second half when Allison just failed to connect with a low cross from Kelly.
Ethan Majury added energy to United’s midfield and despite a couple of late corners in the closing minutes which were really well defended United held out to deservedly retain all three points.
Late in the game the Downshire goal keeper pulled off a point blank save from Ian McMullan injuring himself in the process.
United travelled to New Grosvenor last Tuesday night for the second of the season’s two midweek games against a strong Sirocco Works team who had like their opponents not found that winning formula after three league games.
The early exchanges were even with Sirocco enjoying the advantage of a strong wind while United’s slick passing enabled them to gain valuable attacking opportunities. United suffered the loss of forward Gareth McMullan with a hamstring injury after twenty minutes. Sirocco created a few chances which Brian McMullan dealt with well while at the other end the Sirocco keeper pulled off an outstanding goal line clearance from a shot by David Kelly. On the half hour mark as United pressed up field they were caught out by a long ball which left the Sirocco centre forward free to run through and slip the ball past Brian McMullan. This was a blow for United however they were not to be behind for long as after a few unproductive attacks Dalton Tate released Stuart McMullan on the right wing and he slipped the ball to David Kelly who centred for Gavin Crawford to head superbly into the net.
In the second half United had the advantage of the wind and they varied their tactics with more use of the longer diagonal ball which caused the Sirocco defence lots of problems. Time and again Stuart McMullan and Aaron McCaffrey beat the offside to create openings.
In the 50th minute following excellent work on the right wing by Craig Bowman found David Kelly who created an opening for Scott Brashaw to run into the penalty area and unleash a shot that went in off the post to give United the lead.
This was a lead that United were determined to hold onto and this was epitomised throughout the team. In defence Paul Dickson rose to clear a barrage of long balls while his defensive colleagues Davy Boal, Craig Bowman and Craig McMullan repelled attacks all along their back line. Brian McMullan who was rarely troubled still handled superbly when called upon. In midfield Kelly, Tate, Brashaw and Crawford worked their socks off while Stuart McMullan and McCaffrey provided an excellent first line of defence as they harried the Sirocco defenders at every opportunity.
Despite holding the lead things remained tense until the 80th minute when United got their third goal which always looked as if it would come. Once again it was pressure on the right wing that created the opening and when McCaffrey latched onto the ball in the penalty area he cleverly side footed it to David Kelly who thumped it into the roof of the net.
Sirocco pushed hard in the closing minutes to get back into the game but United remained steadfast to hold on to the valuable three points they had worked so hard for. Gareth Bingham replaced the hard working McCaffrey in the forward line and like all his team mates he put in a valuable shift.
This result is a just reward for some decent performances by United in these opening league matches of the season. Over the next three weeks they face Lisburn Rangers, East Belfast and Killyleagh in cup matches.