United made it past Kent Leaguers Herne Bay at the second time of asking with a 3-0 victory at Winch's Field on Wednesday evening. Despite United having most of the possession, the home side's staunch defence kept the score respectable until the final six minutes when a brace from Staforde Palmer gave the scoreline a healthier look.
Garry Haylock made three changes to the side that were held at Church Road with Toby Little, Simon Martin and Will Hendry returning to the side in place of Calum Scrivens, Kieran Knight and Steve Perkins.
With a light mist drifting in off the sea, it was the home side who drew an early save from Delroy Preddie in the United goal when a free-kick from the Bay's dead ball expert Martin Chandler found the head of Aaron Firth at the far post but Preddie was well positioned to catch his header.
United then began to take an early strangleholdon proceedings although their passing game was not helped by the uneven pitch. A long free-kick from our own half found Palmer who controlled the ball and shot on the turn in a single motion but was too high and minutes later Nevin Saroya rose highest to a James Edgerley centre but his effort was also too high.
The breakthrough was not long coming though, Hendry moved play forwards to Palmer just inside the box, the striker outpaced his marker to the byeline and cut the ball back neatly to where Hendry had arrived to fire past Jack Delo from eight yards.
One single chance apiece followed, Roy Guiver rose above all to meet another Chandler free-kick but Preddie plucked the ball from the air and at the other end Liam Collins sent Edgerley away on the right wing, his cross was met under pressure by Simon Martin who saw his effort blocked away at point blank range by Delo. This chance came in the 24th minute and sadly that was it for first half talking points as the game drifted from one misplaced pass to another with defence's clearly on top.
The second half was to prove to be one way traffic, the only surprising thing was that the game was 84 minutes old when United effectively sealed the game, this being due to excellent defensive play from the Bay coupled with some stray finishing from United.
As early as the second minute of the half United would have doubled their advantage but for an excellent save from Delo who managed to tip a goalbound header by his own defender Aaron O'Leary against the crossbar. Just before the hour mark Guiver should have done better for the home side but his header was well off target and from then on it was just one way traffic.
With an hour played both Hendry and James Mulley tried their luck from 20 yards but failed by inches to trouble Delo and as the game entered its final fifteen minutes it seemed that United's apparent fitness superiority started to show. Liam Collins skied an effort when well placed before a Danny Allen-Page run on the right saw him send Martin on goal but his effort was just too high to trouble Delo or the scorers.
Crosses were now raining in, Allen-Page found Palmer but he headed weakly at Delo before Steve Perkins met a Hendry corner but surprisingly failed to hit the target. Michael Barima then set up Liam Collins but again he skied his effort before Palmer finally put the second past Delo. Barima found Allen-Page who fed the ball to Palmer before drawing the defender away from the ball allowing the striker to turn neatly, fire across Delo and in off the far post.
Palmer should have doubled his tally just minutes later, having dribbled along the byeline and cut inside the six yard box he went for the small target at the near post and failed to hit the target.
As the game entered stoppage time Preddie was forced to make his first real save of the evening, a deep cross from the left found substitute Steven Hanson at the far post, his header back across goal forcing the United stopper into a full stretch tip away. This was not the end of the action though as Palmer made a third for United, a defensive clearance was hit straight at the striker who despite getting his chest to the ball saw it go past him to Steven Hanson. Far from accepting the loss of possession, Palmer chased his man down, took the ball cleanly from him before outpacing both Hanson and Andy Forster to fire once more across Delo into the far corner of the net.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.