United entertained NAFL Division 1B promotion contenders Barn United at the Millbridge last Saturday. Having taken four points from two games against Grove and Barn a few weeks ago United were anxious to bounce back from a disappointing home defeat the previous week to Portaferry.
It was the visitors who started the strongest and despite the loss of their leading scorer during the week to Premier League side East Belfast they looked like a very accomplished outfit that moved the band around with ease. United’s defensive line-up of Davis, Brashaw, Patterson and Dickson had their work cut out from the start with returning goalkeeper Hagi [Michael Vladeanu] making several excellent saves. It took about ten minutes before the home team were able to get a decent attack together however they almost scored when having been awarded a free kick outside the penalty area David Kelly’s shot ricochet’s off the Barn wall and struck the base of the post. After this United forced a number of corners through the tenacity of midfielders Allison, Kelly, Crawford and Stuart McMullan and the intelligent runs of Ross Murray and Ian McMullan. In the 20th minute this hard work was rewarded with a goal when a defender under pressure from Crawford at a corner headed into his own net.
Barn laid siege to the United goal for a period of time after this but could not get a breakthrough and from a breakaway the Barn goalkeeper brought Stuart McMullan down and David Kelly scored the resultant kick to make it 2-0.
In the second half United toiled to preserve their lead with substitutes Burtney, Fitzpatrick and Hill joining the fray to add much needed energy. Both Ian McMullan and Corey Fitzpatrick had excellent opportunities to score in one on one situation but they failed to do so.
Barn scored in the 87th minute to make it a very difficult closing period however United held on to claim a deserved three points on a day when most of the so called strugglers also achieved victories.
This Saturday there is a break from league action when United entertain one of Northern Ireland’s most famous clubs Chimney Corner in the 1st Round of the Junior Cup. While they are no longer the force they once were they will nevertheless give United a tough game. The kick-off is at 1.30pm.