Hayes & Yeading United showed their intentions right from the start against Cambridge United with a high tempo passing game that the opposition could not get to grips with, the only downside was that only a two goal differential was achieved when it could and maybe should have been more.
The home side started well and with just nine minutes played Andy Yiadom slid the ball through to skipper Peter Holmes who had been played on-side by a slow to react Jonathon Thorpe however he fired weakly at keeper Simon Brown from just inside the area.
Just a minute later United back up keeper Josh Lennie was called into action for the first time when a free-kick fell to Adam Marriott on the edge of the area, his sharp turn and shot being gathered by the home stopper.
The opening goal was only minutes away though. A cross from the right side found it's way to Michael Malcolm who controlled the ball neatly before firing a shot that took a small deflection off a defender's leg which was enough to wrong foot Brown in the U's goal (captured below).
The home side continued to push for a second goal, a deep Holmes corner was nodded back into the centre by Adam Bygrave but Adrian Pătulea could not keep his volley down before the same player picked up a loose ball from a shot blocked by James Jennings and found Malcolm in the middle, his drive being pushed away by a diving Brown.
Just before the half hour mark United got a real let off when a Marriott cross looped up off Tom Cadmore's attempted block leaving Lennie stranded, the ball comes back off the face of the crossbar to Jennings whose shot is superbly blocked by a sliding Lee Brown.
Minutes later Pătulea weaved his way past all and sundry and appeared to be felled in the area, while the assistant referee flagged for a spot kick, the seemingly better placed referee Mr Collins emphatically waved for play to continue.
Just before the break the United resolve was tested on three occasions and each time the home side prevailed. First to try his luck was Marriott who rose to a Willmott free-kick but could only provide catching practice for Lennie. Next up was Simon Russell who was just over with an angled drive and the final chance of the half fell again to Russell who was played in by Danny Wright but he fired across goal and wide of the post.
United again started the second period well and could have had a second within minutes of the re-start as Bradley Pritchard and Lewis Ferrell combined on the right with the defender's cross being met by his left sided colleague who found the angle too tight for his volley and was therefore wide of the U's goal.
Just before the hour mark a deep Yiadom cross was collected by goalscorer Malcolm
who made his way inside onto his favoured right foot but his chip shot to the far post was easily collected by Brown. The impressive Yiadom was involved again seconds later when he fired a cross-field ball to Pritchard, his cross shot just evading a full length slide from Pătulea at the far post.
Minutes later the U's create a good chance for themselves when a deep Willmott cross finds Wright but the big striker heads well over the United goal. Garry Haylock's side continue to push for a second that would put distance between the sides and again Cambridge's tormentor is Andy Yiadom who picks out Pritchard in the area, his shot being part blocked by a sliding defender which took the sting out of the shot and Brown fielded easily.
The second soon arrived though as the home side failed to clear their lines, the ball was picked up by Yiadom on the right side, a short pass inside to Hand and a sublime little chip through to Pritchard saw the midfielder unleash an unstoppable shot that flew past Brown giving the U's stopper no chance.
Five minutes later it should have been all over for the visitors as Pătulea broke into the area only to be hauled down by U's substitute David Partridge who was immediately shown a straight red card as Mr Collins awarded a spot kick to United. Unfortunately Jamie Hand's kick was poor and Brown saved, the follow up somehow being fired over the gaping goal by Holmes.
The final real chance fell to the visitors with five minutes remaining when a short free-kick was rolled to Russell but Lennie pushed his shot away to enable United to keep a third clean sheet in four games after not having one for a club record 18 games.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Adam Bygrave.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.