An Omar Rowe brace, one either side of the interval saw United through to the second qualifying round of this seasons Emirates FA Cup in an enthralling cup tie at Hartsdown Park against Isthmian Premier side Margate on a pleasant Tuesday evening in Kent.
United started very quickly with Omar Rowe moving forwards from kick-off before sliding the ball to Francis Amartey, the United striker’s snapshot going wide of the target with just 12 seconds played.
In the tenth minute another opening for Paul Hughes’ side saw Amartey and Bay Downing combined on the right side before the ball was played to Jake Sheppard on the edge of the box, his driven shot going wide via the smallest of deflections of a defender. The resultant corner was played deep to Sanmi Odelusi but his header was wide of the target.
Five minutes later United went close from another corner kick, the ball was again played deep only this time it was met on the volley by Amartey who could only find the side netting of Bailey Vose’s goal.
‘Gate winger John Ufuah, who had caused United a few problems already with his pace without finding anybody in the middle, collected the ball 20 yards out and let fly instantly but his shot was deflected wide by a United defender with the resultant corner kick being caught by Jack Smith comfortably.
A minute later the hosts went even closer when Archie Burnett tried a shot from distance with the ball only just dipping over Smith’s crossbar although the United stopper looked to have it covered all the way.
On 36 minutes the deadlock was broken by the visitors, Sheppard advanced easily past Reece Prestedge before seeing his shot blocked out to the left side of the hosts area where Rowe collected and drilled home an angled shot into the roof of the ‘Gate net giving Vose no chance.
Two minutes later Vose denied United a second when Dylan Kearney did well to hold the ball in the middle of the park before feeding it into the run of his strike partner Amartey who cut inside and hit the target only for Vose to be well placed to palm the effort away to safety.
The final chance before the break again went the way of United as Rowe intercepted a poorly struck Margate pass and advanced past his marker before squaring the ball to Kearney who saw his shot blocked at close quarters by Vose and the home defence completed the clearance as United went in a goal to the good at the break.
A change at the break saw Sheppard replaced by fans favourite Scott Donnelly on his return from injury and it only took two minutes for his dead ball play to show up. Rowe played in a corner from the right that struck Margate’s Ben Swift at the far post and went inches wide of his own goal, the resultant corner was taken by Donnelly who picked out Odelusi but again his header was off target.
Vose was in action again soon after when a long ball forwards to Odelusi saw the midfielder knock the ball ahead to Scott Shulton, his volley from the edge of the box being held by the home stopper.
In the 52nd minute United were somewhat gifted a second when Vose, having comfortably dealt with a corner, brought the ball to the edge of the box before rolling it to a teammate who did not see Rowe coming, the United man taking possession 20 yards out and with Vose stranded on the edge of his box the United man took the ball past him and slotted home between two retreating defenders to double United’s advantage.
With United now firmly in control of proceedings chances continued the come and go for the Middlesex side. Amartey was just too high having met a cross from Donnelly and then on the hour Kearney received the ball in the area, defender Chris Sessegnon got a toe to the ball to deny Kearney a strike but the loose ball ran to Shulton who fired across Vose’s goal but wide of the far post.
As pressure for a third continued, Rowe saw a half-volley go too high to trouble Vose before the stopper again denied Shulton a first United goal as he pushed the midfielders shot around the post.
With 15 minutes remaining the home side either woke up or United sat back too much as play seemed to move to the other end of the pitch. Conor Evans played the ball forwards to Ufuah but his shot from left of centre flew across Smith’s goal and well wide of the far post.
Three minutes later a free-kick was played in from the left, Liam Friend rose highest for the home side only for Smith to tip the defenders header onto the post and when the ball was chipped back into the mix the United defence combined to force the ball away to safety and the two goal advantage was retained until the 86th minute when a cross from the left was adjudged to have struck a United defenders arm while sliding in to block and a penalty was awarded. Ufuah stepped up and smashed the ball past Smith to give the hosts hope.
A chance at each end came within a minute in additional time with United having a chance to kill the game before being thankful to Smith at the other end. Kearney did exceptionally well to hold off three defenders on the right flank before slipping past them all and squaring the ball to Donnelly who saw his effort blocked by Vose. Play immediately switched to the other end where Evans collected the ball 20 yards out and hit a ferocious shot that Smith was able to tip over at full stretch as United saw out the rest of the additional time to progress to the next round.
We thank Margate for their hospitality and wish them well in their Isthmian Premier campaign.
Report by Kevin Watts.
United Man of the Match: Omar Rowe.