Manager Paul Hughes made three changes to his starting XI for the midweek visit of Salisbury as United looked to continue to put pressure on the other three title challengers. Skipper Liam McDevitt returned for the injured Ben Frempah while Kadell Daniel and Hassan Jalloh came in for Amos Nasha and Francis Amartey who took a rest on the bench.
The first half was certainly nothing to write home about in terms of quality however United did fashion an opening in the tenth minute when a superb throw from Ravan Constable found Cole Brown on the halfway line, he ran at the visitors defence before finding Moses Emmanuel on the left of the Whites box but United’s top scorer was marginally too high with his shot.
Six minutes later at the other end Dan Fitchett did well to work his way into the United area and when the ball ran loose from his control it fell to Josh Wakefield but his shot was partially blocked by the United defence leaving Constable with an easy take.
United went close again just before the half hour mark when Kadell Daniel did well to hold the ball on the edge of the Whites box and under challenge he still managed to poke the ball aside to Hassan Jalloh who tried his luck from the edge of the area but his shot curled away from goal and just wide of the target.
Five minutes later Charlie Davis picked out Sam Roberts with a free-kick from the left but the unmarked defender could only plant his header straight at Constable who held it diving to his right and that was it chances wise for the first period.
A half time change for United saw the introduction of Francis Amartey for Daniel and within a minute of the re-start he almost broke the deadlock as he moved onto a smart Emmanuel pass and fired past Patrick O’Flaherty in the Salisbury goal only for his effort to come back off the upright to Omar Rowe who saw his shot easily held by the Whites stopper.
O’Flaherty was again required on 56 minutes when a poor Salisbury pass put Amartey through on the right side of the box, his angled shot being forced away by the outstretched boot of the Salisbury ‘keeper.
A couple of minutes later United were indebted to Constable for keeping them from falling behind. Fitchett seemed to slip on the edge of the United box only for the referee to award the visitors a free-kick, Charlie Davis smashed the ball into a well set-up United wall however the ball squirmed through to Fitchett who was denied by an excellent Constable block at point blank range and almost immediately United launched a quick raid at the other end as Amartey raced into the box before pulling the ball back to Jordan Ngalo who saw his shot go agonisingly wide of the target.
Not surprisingly when the opener did come for United on 66 minutes, Amartey was the catalyst, the striker collecting the ball on the right flank and outstripping his marker at pace before getting to the bye-line and pulling the ball back to Emmanuel who tapped home his 35th of the season.
With the visitors offering little going forwards, their best chance being snuffed out by a superb Liam McDevitt block tackle ten yards from goal fifteen minutes from time, it was United who found the only other goal of the game as Rowe slid a perfect pass through to Amartey who darted around O’Flaherty and coolly fed the ball into the vacant net for a victory that sees United regain top spot although the chasing pack have games in hand as we reach what must be the tightest four club finish the Southern League has seen for many years.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Sponsors "Planet Leasing" United Man of the Match: Francis Amartey.
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