With many first team squad members needing pitch time with the busy Christmas programme rapidly approaching Garry Haylock fielded a strong side against Staines Town at Wheatsheaf Park in the second round of the President's Cup.
An early chance for Hayes & Yeading came the way of the newest first team squad member when 17 year old Daniel Wishart latched onto a loose defensive pass before trying his luck with his weaker right foot, just missing the target from 20 yards with just 90 seconds on the clock.
It was midway through the half before the next real chance came as the home side had settled into the game having spells of possession but finding no way through the United defence. The opening goal came in the 22nd minute when Jack Pattison sent Craig Watkins away on the right, he outpaced Marvin Farrell before crossing, Staines keeper James Courtnage allowed the ball to leave his grasp and Wishart pounced to net from close range.
Toby Little then went close from 35 yards before Robert Gradwell blasted over when well placed. Ten minutes from the break Courtnage atoned for his earlier slip by blocking a Watkins volley that Michael Kamara cleared for a corner. The corner was met powerfully by Scott Fitzgerald but again Courtnage pushed the ball out before holding on to Watkins' follow up header.
Two minutes later the Swans went close when Ashley Lodge rose highest to a corner that Chris Baker did well to block at the foot of the post and Little finished off the clearance. Minutes later a second tap in doubled United's lead, Staforde Palmer battled his way to six yards from goal only to be denied by Courtnage who then did the same to Wishart before Gradwell tapped into the vacant net from a yard out.
With a two goal lead at the break and the strength of the United side you could be forgiven
for thinking the game was over, nobody told the home side though and they were back into the game just 34 seconds into the second half. Mazin Ahmad broke free on the left, his angled shot was pushed out by Baker but only as far as Adam Cole who fired past the defender on the line.
United immediately took a form grip on play but failed to increase their lead. Fitzgerald fired a free-kick past the wall but found Courtnage, the Swans keeper then did even better when Watkins dived to meet a Little free-kick, the Swans keeper clawing the ball out one handed. Still the barrage continued, Charlie Wassmer saw a powerful header deflected wide and from the resultant corner Fitzgerald was twice denied by Courtnage who held firm in the Staines goal.
Courtnage was indeed having a real purple patch and in turn keeping his side in the game. Fitzgerald found Wassmer with another free-kick, the defenders stooping header being pushed away by the diving Swans keeper who then showed great agility to push a goalbound Palmer shot around the post.
We then came to a manic five minute spell which saw the Swans not only equalise but take the lead in just sixty seconds before two in three minutes restored the United advantage. First to find the net was the home side's Ashley Lodge who latched onto a cross that appeared to go under Sami El-Abd's boot and then within a minute the Swans were head when Hyun-Jin Lee picked up a loose ball before finding the bottom corner from 20 yards.
The Swans lead was to last just two minutes as Palmer pulled down a partially cleared corner before finding Fitzgerald who fired home from the edge of the area. Next up was Palmer who having made his way through about four tackles found himself dumped on his backside in the six yard box, rather than wait for a whistle that may never have come he had the presence of mind to hook the loose ball into the net while still on the ground.
With seven already in the bag chances continued to flow at both ends. Jake Lovell almost made an immediate impact when he moved onto a Palmer pass, his first time shot being pushed out one handed by Courtnage. Straight to the other end and a high bouncing ball was met by both Baker and Swans' Marc Charles-Smith, the ensuing action being more akin to Keystone Cops that football before the solid boot of El-Abd cleared the danger.
Four minutes remained when Ahmad again found space in the United box, Baker palmed out his shot but in the ensuing melee picked up a back-pass and an indirect free-kick was awarded some seven yards from goal. The ball was played to Lodge but by the time he connected he was drowned by a flood of red and the ball was blocked away for a throw.
One more chance of an equaliser came the way of the home side just into stoppage time when Ahmad's free-kick was pushed out by Baker before the final whistle brought an end to a thoroughly entertaining game of football, a trip to Redbridge in the Quarter-Finals now beckons United.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Scott Fitzgerald.