Manager Nas Bashir shook up his starting line-up after Tuesday's non-performance against Newport but sadly from a fans perspective it was not a whole lot better as United exited this season's Middlesex Senior Cup at the first attempt at the hands of Blue Square Bet South side Hampton & Richmond Borough.
New signing Toby Ajala came into the centre of the United midfield while Tom Cadmore and striker Daniel Wishart found themselves in the respective full-back roles with Callum Morris moving to centre-back. Mo Bettamer came in as the lone striker for his first start for United and Tom Collins returned to the side in a wide right role.
The game took a while to get started as both sides were getting used to non-regular line-ups/formations, in fact the first chances fell United's way as first Mark Bentley fired over and then Louie Soares drew a save from Beavers keeper Craig Ross, albeit a comfortable grab.
Midway into the half the home side tested Delroy Preddie for the first time, Josh Huggins broke away on the right side and pulled the ball back to the impressive Dan Thompson whose first time shot forced the United keeper to touch his shot around the post.
Hampton play-makers Louie-Rae Beadle and Charlie Moone combined to create another opening for Thompson but this time he was far too high with a volley.
Eleven minutes from the break the home side should have broken the deadlock when a long punted free-kick from Ross was helped on by Beadle to Moone who screwed his effort wide of the target from 8 yards. Two minutes later a near post scramble from a corner saw Callum Morris hack the ball of the line to save United from going behind.
Go behind we did however four minutes from the break when Moone latched onto a Curtis Ujah slip and advanced into the box on the left, his shot was palmed away by a diving Preddie but the ball went straight to the on-coming Beadle who side footed in a volley from close range.
Both sides made a change at the break with United replacing Ujah with James Folkes who moved into the unfamiliar right-back slot with Cadmore moving to his preferred centre-back position. United started the half well and Wishart sprayed a pass to Collins just five minutes in but his effort was off target. Preddie was quickly in action again, diving to grab hold of a Beadle shot after he had collected Thompson's flick.
Collins and Williams exchanged passes on 68 minutes with the former forcing a diving parry from Ross but unlike Hampton's goal earlier, no United player was close by to gather the loose ball. Two minutes later Collins finally beat the offside trap and advanced on Ross, the Beavers keeper doing well to stand big and block out the United striker's effort.
Then just as United were looking a good bet to draw level, Wishart was dispossessed just inside the Hampton half by Beadle who immediately played the ball forwards into Moone's run, he entered the United area, rounded a diving Preddie, and fired the ball firmly from an angle into the vacant net to double his side's advantage.
United's heads now seemed to drop and it was the home side who looked more likely to score a third. Thompson headed over when un-marked and Moone dragged a shot wide when well placed. At the other end Collins was denied a goal having finally beaten Ross by a raised assistant's flag and then with virtually the last touch of the game United did get a consolation as Cadmore volleyed home right on the post following a corner.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Louie Soares.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.