Two late goals at the Reachfields Stadium saw United progress in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday courtesy of a
2-0 win at Hythe Town.
With a dry and bumpy pitch to play on this was never going to be a classic but from a spectators point of view the first 45 minutes were akin to watching paint dry at times as both sides failed to get to grips with the playing conditions and the ball spent more time in the air than on the ground with both defences in command aerially.
Manager Paul Hughes made a brace of changes from his Bank Holiday starting XI with Paul Field replacing the unavailable Ezra Ikebuasi and new signing Taylor Miles coming in for the injured Cole Brown.
It could have started so well though for United as with just 45 seconds on the watch Amos Nasha collected the ball and advanced on the hosts area before unleashing a shot from 20 yards that Hythe ‘keeper Aaron Lee-Wharton did well to push away.
After this the next noteworthy incident came a full 30 minutes later when Sanmi Odelusi moved forwards to the edge of the box before sliding the ball right to Paul Hodges, his first time shot going just the wrong side of the upright.
Three minutes later the hosts created an opening of their own as veteran striker Frannie Collin fired over a free-kick that Jack Steventon rose highest to meet only for his header to fly wide of the United goal.
Just before the break Moses Emmanuel headed a Nasha cross over the bar and that was really it for an extremely mundane first half.
Thankfully for those in attendance the second half did pick up pace with far more chances being created, the first of which fell to the hosts on 54 minutes as substitute Josh Stirman collected a pass on the edge of the United box, he rolled the ball sideways to Collin but his shot went just the wrong side of the post.
Just past the hour mark Mo Bettamer broke forwards for United and slid a neat pass into the forward run of Emmanuel, he moved into the box but Lee-Wharton stood firm and blocked out the strikers’ shot.
We reached the midway point in the half and another chance came forth for the home side. A long Steventon throw into the United box was flicked wide by Taylor Miles as Lex Allen closed in and from the resultant corner kick Allen met this one but Jacob Adams was down quickly to save reasonably comfortably.
Play immediately switched to the other end with Emmanuel collecting the ball in the left channel before cutting inside to get a shot away that Lee-Wharton again blocked away although only as far as Bettamer who saw his low follow-up effort from the edge of the box drift wide of the far post.
In the 71st minute Collin again tried his luck from distance but was off target and then two minutes later the deadlock was broken by United, Paul Field crossed from the right side, a defensive clearance fell to substitute Ayo Faniyan, his shot was blocked to Emmanuel and after a bit of ping-pong in the six yard box he slid the ball home from close range and despite many protests from the home players for offside the goal stood.
Buoyed by the goal United started to quickly push for another however not long after a serious looking injury to Faniyan somewhat took the edge off things, the impressive striker landing badly after an aerial challenge whereby a lengthy delay ensued before he was safely stretchered from the pitch in immense pain, we wish him a full recovery and return to the side.
With five minutes of the 90 remaining a Stirman centre was headed over for the hosts by Johan Caney-Bryan and three minutes later United pretty much sealed our progression as Field collected the ball on the right and cut inside into the Hythe box before firing a low left footed shot that Lee-Wharton appeared to dive over and the ball nestled nicely in the back of the net for a goal on the defenders full debut.
Five minutes into 15 minutes of additional time due to Ayo’s injury, his replacement Florian Envoudou Ada won possession in the middle of the park and sent Emmanuel through but he hot wide under pressure from a home defender.
The last effort of the game came in the last couple of added minutes when Collin tried his luck with a 25 yard free-kick but Adams saved easily and United moved into the hat for Monday’s draw.
We thank Hythe Town for their hospitality and wish them well for the rest of the season.
Report by Kevin Watts.
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