With United in a four horse race for the title with time quickly running out this was not expected to be an easy task as Yate Town were also in need of the points in their push for a play-off spot and while the result was in the balance until a United three goal four minute blast at the end the visitors really offered little going forwards to trouble the United back-line.
Manager Paul Hughes made three changes to freshen up his side after Tuesday’s victory over Salisbury as fit again Sanmi Odelusi and Ben Frempah plus Amos Nasha came into the starting XI in place of Josh Payne, Keano Robinson and Kadell Daniel.
A couple of tasters came forth in the opening five minutes, first up for United Cole Brown collected a throw-in on the right, cut inside and hit a left foot shot that was held by Andrew Hannah in the Bluebells goal and then a minute later Joe Tumelty tried his luck from 20 yards but his free-kick was easily gathered by Ravan Constable.
Just before the half hour mark United broke the deadlock but could have had three in as many minutes. First up a deep cross was headed back by Ben Frempah to Francis Amartey who controlled the ball with his back to goal and hit a volley on the turn that crashed into the side netting.
A minute later United were ahead, Amos Nasha was quickest to a loose pass from the back by the visitors, advancing towards the Yate box before feeding the ball into the run of Moses Emmanuel who calmly slotted home his 36th of the season, three short of Manny Duku’s club record 39.
Two minutes later Amartey outjumped 6’ 6” defender Matt Bower before moving around the giant only for his shot to be blocked wide by Hannah and the resultant corner was met by skipper Liam McDevitt but his header was too high.
The final couple of minutes of the half saw more chances for United. Brown and Emmanuel combined to create a shooting opportunity for Nasha but his effort was slightly too high with the same player going closer in stoppage time, forcing Hannah to touch his goalbound effort wide after he had been set up by Brown. The resultant corner this time dropped to Emmanuel at the far post but Hannah was quickly down to block his effort away.
Still in stoppage time Hannah again came to the Bluebells rescue after Jordan Ngalo and Emmanuel exchanged passes with the later finding Amartey but the visiting stopper did well to block his effort into the ground with the bounce taking the ball over the top and the half closed out with United a goal to the good.
United were quickly at it again after the break and with just three minutes played a neat one-two between Rowe and Emmanuel saw Rowe’s shot blocked wide by Bower and just before the hour mark a nice exchange on the right between Nasha and Brown saw the ball pulled back to Amartey but again Hannah was in the way to deny him.
With 20 minutes to play a Tumelty free-kick into the United box was met by Bower with a diving header but his effort was well wide of the target leaving Constable’s goal still pretty much untroubled and soon after at the other end Nasha fed the ball left to substitute Hassan Jalloh but his shot flew across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
As we entered the final ten minutes the United lead was still a slender one despite having the bulk of the possession. In the 81st minute Emmanuel sent Amartey through on goal, this time he beat Hannah only for his effort to go inches wide of the upright.
With six minutes remaining United fans hearts took a jolt as a long range shot fell kindly to Stuart Fleetwood in the United box but a combination of Constable quickly shutting him down and his own stumble led to the ball rolling out harmlessly for a goal-kick.
Two minutes later United finally gave themselves some breathing space, Jalloh fed the ball inside to Emmanuel who held it up under challenge before setting it nicely for Amartey to fire past Hannah and just a couple of minutes later he had another, the striker running into the box before firing past Hannah once more for his 45th United goal, just two behind Toby Little’s club record of 47.
United were not finished as within sixty seconds it was four when Jalloh collected the ball in the box and fired home on the turn.
Deep into added time Constable was required to make his first real save of the game as Bluebells skipper Jamie Adams hit a fierce drive from 20 yards that the United stopper pushed away to ensure his third consecutive clean sheet.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos to be added.
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