With last season being curtailed immediately after United and Swindon Supermarine had played back to back league games, this evening’s game ironically was to be the third meeting between the two sides in the space of just five Southern Premier South fixtures either side of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Injuries to both Omar Rowe and Scott Shulton forced manager Paul Hughes into a pair of changes from the side narrowly beaten at Poole Town with Scott Donnelly returning to the starting line-up along with debutant Denzel Williams.
Paul Hughes’ side started well and in just the 12th minute Scott Donnelly found Francis Amartey on the edge of the Spitfires area, the striker controlling the ball and striking goalwards on the turn but his effort was well blocked by the visitors defence and the ball cannoned to safety.
Seven minutes later United deservedly had the lead as Donnelly’s deep corner from the left found Denzel Williams at the far post and the central defender showed a cool head to volley the ball past Martin Horsell in the visitors goal.
With the United goal coming under little threat despite the Spitfires having a fair share of the ball, it was United who almost doubled their advantage in the 28th minute when Donnelly latched onto a defenders clearance and drilled in a 30 yard shot that left Horsell standing, only to come flying back off the upright to be cleared by the relieved visitors defence.
Eight minutes remained in the half and United’s defence come under intense pressure but the skipper and his defensive colleagues held firm, Liam McDevitt himself did well to block out a Zack Kotwica drive from the edge of the box and when the ball ran to Henry Spalding, his effort was also blocked, this time by Sanmi Odelusi and the danger was cleared with United going in a goal to the good at the break.
The visitors came out with a different approach in the second half, using the carpet like SKYex pitch rather than the sky above it and this gave them much more of the ball going forwards than the first half approach had.
That being said, the first chance of the half came just before the hour mark and again it came for United. Donnelly sent Bay Downing away on the right side, his low driven cross being played towards his own goal by Jake Lee but thankfully for the defender his ‘keeper Horsell was able to grab the ball.
Four minutes later the Spitfires were level as United’s defence failed to clear the ball sufficiently, Kotwica fed the ball to Ryan Campbell who coolly slotted beyond Jack Smith’s dive into the United net.
United were soon pushing for the lead once again, Dylan Kearney flicked the ball on to substitute Karl Cunningham who quickly sent Amartey through on goal, as he tried to go around Horsell, the ball pinged around for a few seconds before the stopper was finally able to grab it and the chance was gone.
United were to have a bit of a let off at the other end ten minutes later when Kotwica glanced a header from a corner towards the far post, the ball just evading the sliding Lee before rolling out safely for a goal-kick to the home side.
Two minutes later United were back ahead when Downing collected the ball on the right side of the Spitfires half, his curling centre being headed home by Cunningham in the middle.
United continued to look for another, Amartey and Downing combined on the right, the defenders centre being cut out by Lee but only as far as Donnelly who saw his volley held by Horsell. Then just three minutes later United added a third in fine style, substitute Rico Greco collected the ball in his own half following a Spitfires attack that had broken down, the 18 year-old sending a sublime pass down the left side for Amartey to chase, he outpaced the defence and as Horsell came flying from his area, the United striker lofted the ball goalwards, taking a single bounce before hitting the back of the Spitfires net.
The final five minutes saw both ‘keepers make a save to stop the scoreboard being required. First off Horsell denied United a fourth as he pushed wide a 20 yard drive from a very advanced Keano Robinson and in the final minute at the other end a cross from the right found Jamie Edge 18 yards from goal, his effort being pushed wide by Smith in the United goal and that was it for the action as United took a well earned three points.
Report by Kevin Watts.
United Man of the Match: Francis Amartey.
Print the Teamsheet: Here.