With the fixture only being arranged with a few days notice, Manager Paul Hughes chose to field a mixed side of experience, trialists and a couple of 16 year-old prospects while also having several of the under-18 side on the bench.
A nice move in just the second minute saw Jamie Hanlon and Dylan Kearney exchange passes on the right side before the former advanced into the area and fired the ball across the face of goal but just out of the reach of a sliding United player in the middle.
The Sports were to break the deadlock on 14 minutes when a mix-up in the United defence gave Charlie Postance the chance to get to the ball before Jack Smith, the strikers’ effort going in off the far post of the United goal.
Ten minutes later another error at the back almost cost United another as the ball was partially cleared with Smith outside his box to Max Webb, his 30 yard effort thankfully for United flew over the crossbar.
A couple of chances came United’s way as the game approached the half hour mark. Omar Rowe won possession and played the ball to Kearney whose first time attempt to lob ‘keeper Dimitrios Kyriatzis forced the stopper to back-peddle but he was equal to the effort and held on at full stretch.
Just a minute later Rowe again won the ball, the time in the Sports area but his curling effort was well held by Kyriatzis at the foot of the post.
The hosts were twice given free headers in the box from corners as the game passed the 30 minute mark, the first going wide of the target and the second over the top, much to the annoyance of Smith who forcefully told his defence to “sort it out”.
The final five minutes ticked off the clock with three chances being created. The first came United’s way as a trialist, Jack Rice, who had come on as a very early substitute, let fly from 20 yards and with the aid of a deflection forced Kyriatzis to tip the ball wide at the foot of his post. The resultant corner was cleared as far as Romey Meoded who let fly from 20 yards, just clearing the hosts crossbar.
Two further chances to extend the lead came for the hosts, a free-kick was played in from the right and again the recipient was unmarked with Webb heading wide of the target. Another opening then came for Postance who got to a drilled cross first but turned the ball over the top and the half closed with the hosts a goal to the good.
The Sports single goal lead was doubled just six minutes into the second half as a low centre from the right side picked out a Sports player at the far post and he touched the ball home from close range.
Minutes later Kearney collected the ball in the Sports area and hit a shot on the turn that was well blocked and then cleared by the Sports defence. Five minutes later Kearney had a golden chance to get his side back in the game when a foul in the area led to referee Paul Andrews pointing to the spot. Kearney’s kick however was well saved by the Kyriatzis who guessed correctly and pushed the kick away.
Almost immediately the ball was launched down the other end with a Sports player getting there first to lob the ball over under-18 ‘keeper Matt King with skipper Liam McDevitt chasing back to clear the effort off the line.
United had a shot deflected into the side netting before more of the under-18 squad were introduced for the final minutes, the only notable action in this time however was a third goal from the hosts who fired home from inside the box and despite King getting a good hand to the shot, the ball crept in at the far post.
Report by Kevin Watts.