Hayes & Yeading United defeated Cambridge City in some style to wipe out a five game winless run and earn their first victory of 2008.
Liam Collins came back into the side in place of Toby Little while two new names appeared in the substitutes’ bench in former Watford midfielder Kyle Matthews and Fouahde Belaid, recently signed for a second spell from Maidenhead United.
Cambridge gave Hayes & Yeading an almighty warning shot across their boughs moments after the game kicked off when Joe Bruce’s looping cross was flicked on by Michael Gash and Neil Midgley ghosted in at the far post but planted his shot against the inside of the post, the rebound going into the grateful arms of United keeper Alessio De Angelis.
United soon got into their stride. Will Hendry sprayed a long pass out to Josh Scott who shot from an acute angle straight at Ashley Timms.
Gradually United began to take a stranglehold on the game with neat interchanges of passing through the middle. Cambridge were mostly reliant on long balls over the top of United’s defence towards Gash and Ashley Fuller.
A gilt edged chance fell to Ram Marwa on 18 minutes when he latched onto Hendry’s pinpoint corner, but his snapshot flew inches past the post. Soon afterwards, Cambridge kept the United defence alert when Gash headed wide from Midgley’s left wing cross.
Just a minute after picking up a disappointing booking for kicking the ball away, Hendry made amends by rounding off a fine United move to open the scoring. Scott hooked the ball down the left wing and Kieran Knight was quick to get in behind the City defence. His clever pull back found Hendry charging through the middle and he controlled the ball in his stride before placing it deliberately to Ashley Timms' right and into the bottom corner.
On the half hour, a rare mistake by Steve Perkins saw his stray pass snapped up by Stephen Smith. His pass to Gash had the United defence floundering but De Angelis pulled off a smart save to deny him an equaliser. A minute later United were back on the offensive, but Scott’s long range drive flew just wide of the goal.
Neil Midgley left two United defenders in his wake shortly afterwards with a mazy run cutting in from the left and his lay off to Smith looked dangerous but his shot was skewed wide.
On 41 minutes, Cambridge scored a controversial equaliser. A swift breakaway from a United corner orchestrated by Dave Theobald sent Smith running at James Mulley. The young midfielder held him up well and the Cambridge debutant appeared to fall over the ball whilst trying to cut inside. Despite no appeals from the home side and the incident appearing to happen outside the penalty area, referee Gavin Muge awarded a penalty which Gash converted just beyond De Angelis’s right hand.
United put that right before half time. Knight surged down the right with a strong run and his drilled low cross cannoned off Bruce’s shins and into the corner of the net for an own goal.
The second half started in the same vein with United applying most of the pressure. A neat move beginning with Scott and involving a passing interchange between Liam Collins and Knight saw the latter roll the ball across goal for Scott only for the forward to miscontrol at the vital time and watch the ball roll agonisingly wide. Theobald put a diving header just wide from Lee Chaffey’s free kick but they found getting near to the United goal generally very difficult.
Marwa volleyed over after Theobald half cleared Liam Collins’ cross and Timms produced a brilliant save from point blank range to push Scott’s fierce drive over the bar after good work by Mulley on the right.
An injury to Hendry forced the introduction of Charlie Mapes in a straight swap on the hour.
City rallied and in the 64th minute, they carved out two decent chances. Lee Roache cut the ball back for Ben Bowditch who fired well wide from a good position before Gash’s shot was well caught by De Angelis despite a wicked deflection.
United swept immediately forward and Timms held onto Scott’s low shot after his neat one two with Knight.
Within a minute, United had a third goal. Perkins’ ball down the right channel was latched onto by Scott who turned his marker, cut inside and fired in a low shot off the inside of the post.
This seemed to knock the stuffing out of the hosts and just ten minutes later, Scott stretched the lead further. Mulley broke free on the right and fired the ball across the six yard box to the far post. Scott miscued his shot but nevertheless managed to block Theobald’s attempted clearance and the ball spun into the bottom corner of the net.
With the game sewn up, Knight, who had just been treated for an injury, was replaced by Staforde Palmer. Somewhat surprisingly, the next player with an effort on goal was Cambridge goalkeeper Timms who fired a free kick from his own half towards De Angelis’ goal but the ball drifted wide.
In the closing stages, Kyle Matthews replaced Danny Allen-Page to make his United debut and it was he who cut the ball back to Marwa whose lay off was fired over by Mapes. A minute later, Liam Collins cut inside and fired inches over from 20 yards.
Matthews had a great chance for a debut goal deep into stoppage time when Mapes found him in space but his control delayed his shot which turned into an easy save for Timms.
Report by Nick Bell. Photos by Ray Peploe