Two goals from winger Toby Little allowed Hayes & Yeading United to extend their lead at the top of the Capital League Western Division on Wednesday, although they were made to work hard for their victory by a strong Hitchin Town line up including former United player James Edgerley.
United started slowly in a generally disappointing first half and Hitchin had the best of the early exchanges. In the 11th minute, they made a loud appeal for handball against Jamie Lindsay, when Tom Davis headed the ball back across goal, but the referee waved the home team’s protests away. Soon afterwards, Will Holmes fired wide from long range and then after Davis was stopped by a last ditch Lindsay challenge, Edgerley’s 25 yard strike flew into the side netting.
United sparked into life and Staforde Palmer set up Scott Fitzgerald who fired well wide from a good position. Palmer then had two chances in quick succession, first testing keeper Grant Beckwith with a low drive which he tipped round his near post, then with a spectacular overhead effort which was unfortunately straight at Beckwith.
The impressive Mohammed Dikuiza played a delightful throughball to Little in the 34th minute but he slid his shot just wide of the far post.
Edgerley ended the half with two efforts on goal, the first being easily caught by Simon Grant after Holmes’s throughball sent him in behind the United defence. The second was deflected wide by the lunging Lindsay.
Beckwith was called into action in the 55th minute when he tipped Daniel Mehmet’s low shot wide after good work on the right by Malakai Bulley. From the resulting corner, United took the lead with a wonderful strike by Little, from fully 30 yards after a near post header had appeared to clear the danger for the home team. The ball cannoned into one post and just nestled behind the other to stun the home side.
This heralded United’s best spell. Little’s inch perfect pass to Palmer put him through on goal but substitute goalkeeper James Gilbert half stopped his shot and Joe Corrie got back to clear the slow moving ball off the line. Two minutes later, United extended their lead when Mehmet collected Palmer’s pass on the left and cut inside only to be tripped by Corrie for a penalty. Little nonchalantly passed the ball into the bottom corner, sending Gilbert the wrong way.
Just as it looked like United would cruise to victory, Hitchin got a goal back when Chris Doyle and Holmes combined to put Scott Sinclair in behind the United defence and he finished past the exposed Grant.
Soon afterwards, Doyle hit a curling shot inches wide to the relief of the United players but Little almost grabbed a hat-trick when from Ray Curtis’s cross, Matt MacArdle inadvertently headed the ball right into his path but he volleyed the ball inches wide.
Grant did well to preserve United’s advantage when he blocked a Davis shot following MacArdle’s long ball but there was to be no further threat on his goal and United saw the game out to earn a hard fought 2-1 victory.
Report by Nick Bell.
Website United Man of the Match: Toby Little.