A first half Dylan Kearney hat-trick helped United to a 5-3 pre-season behind closed doors victory over neighbours Northwood on the United training pitch on Tuesday evening in the August heat amidst a sharp thunderstorm.
Manager Paul Hughes threw in a few more trialists as he looks to build a squad for the forthcoming season while giving more game time to those who will look to be regulars in the starting line-up come September, or whenever the campaign begins.
Unlike Saturday, United were quicker out of the blocks this time around and within the first ten minutes a tricky quick footed manoeuver in the box from Omar Rowe drew a trip from a defender and the referee pointed to the spot. Scott Donnelly stepped up and coolly sent the ‘keeper the wrong way from 12 yards.
The lead sadly was only to last three minutes though as the visitors collected the ball on the right corner of the United box and fired home beyond the dive of United’s trialists stopper.
Within a minute United almost regained the lead when Bay Downing broke clear on the right, his pinpoint cross was met at the far post by another United trialist “F”, his volley was pushed out by the Woods ‘keeper to Dylan Kearney who saw his driven shot come back off the upright to safety.
On twenty minutes the visitors fired in a well struck shot from 20 yards out but it was just too high to trouble the ‘keeper.
The final 15 minutes of the half saw United really start to assert themselves on the game. Francis Amartey made powerful strides across the edge of the Woods area before setting up Trialist D, his drive being well fielded by the Woods stopper.
Two Rowe efforts within a few minutes firstly saw his curling effort go just the wrong side of the far post and he was then denied by a fine diving save from the visitors ‘keeper who pushed the United man’s goalbound effort around the post.
Soon after Kearney took control, netting twice and going within an inch of scoring a three minute hat-trick. On 37 minutes good work from Amartey saw him feed the ball to his strike partner, Kearney did the rest, turning his marker before firing home to give United the lead. A minute later he had another, collecting in the area before weaving past two tackles to fire home once more. Again within a minute he had the ball in the box once more but this time his low drive came back off the post to deny him a third.
Soon after United went close again when trialist E got his head to a deep Donnelly corner but headed inches wide and then in stoppage time Kearney did complete his hat-trick, again collecting in the box and firing low past the ‘keepers dive as United went in 4-1 ahead at the break.
After a couple of changes at the break Paul Hughes’ side seemed to lose their way a little although on 52 minutes trialist F was played through only to draw a good blocked save from the Woods ‘keeper and then the visitors struck twice in four minutes to get themselves back in the game.
On 54 minutes United gave the ball away in their own box with Jack Williams doing well to deflect the Woods shot wide for a corner. After failing to fully clear the corner kick, the visitors worked the ball to Diogo da Silva who drove home into the bottom corner of the United net.
Three minutes later Lucas Tori collected the ball on the edge of the United area, his deflected shot flying into the United net to leave United leading by just the odd goal in seven.
Trialist E for United saw a shot from range held by the Woods stopper and a couple of minutes later we had the same at the other end as United’s stopper comfortably held a 20 yard Woods free-kick.
With ten minutes to go the visitors must have thought they were level. After breaking into the area past the United back line, a low shot was pushed out by the United ‘keeper who was quickly back on his feet to push the follow-up wide when the Woods player must have only seen a gaping goal in front of him.
The victory was finally sealed in the second minute of added time when Trialist G collected the ball on the edge of the visitors area before curling a perfect shot beyond the ‘keepers dive into the bottom corner.
Report by Kevin Watts.