For the first time in a number of weeks, Manager Paul Hughes had a few selection headaches ahead of the visit of Merthyr Town as his squad sees more bodies available for selection after injury.
This one was to be a very competitive game as both sides clearly came to play football and the result on a cold final day of February was a win for United by the odd goal in five that sees us move up to 6th in the table and still with a shout at the play-offs.
United started well and in just the second minute Luke Warner-Eley raced onto a ball on the left flank, his centre found Danny Green but his header was comfortably held by Merthyr stopper Jaimie Cogman.
Once the game settled it was to prove to be an evenly contested battle, the visitors went close on 23 minutes when Frazer Thomas fed the ball to Alex John, his 20 yard effort just clearing the United crossbar although Jacob Adams did appear to have it well covered.
Within a minute Owen Brain sent Thomas into the United box, he rounded the diving Adams only to overrun the ball which saw it go out for a United goal-kick. Soon after as play switched to the other end, Paul Field crossed from the right side and almost netted a fluke, Cogman being alert enough to tip the ball over.
A minute later Field again had possession on the right, this time his cross found Taylor Miles who hit a first time shot that went narrowly wide and into the side netting and then on 29 minutes the Martyrs broke the deadlock when Thomas’s centre was headed home at the far post by Noah Smerden.
The Martyrs lead was to last just three minutes although United will be indebted to Jacob Adams seconds earlier as the United stopper did well to save with his legs after Ricardo Rees had held off a Josh Lelan challenge to move into the United box.
Following straight on from this save a nice set of passing moves saw United move down the field with Green feeding the ball through to Moses Emmanuel who bagged his 20th of the season from close range.
Ten minutes later United took the lead in fine style with Roger James moving onto the ball 20 yards out, his swerving shot going across goal and into the far side of the net despite a touch from Cogman the effort was too fierce for him to keep it out and this was to see United go in at the break with a 2-1 advantage.
James was replaced during the interval by Cole Brown on the right side and United again started quickly upon the re-start with Adam Liddle finding Warner-Eley on the left, his cross was collected in the middle by Emmanuel who set the ball nicely to Taylor Miles who was denied by a superb one handed save from Cogman that diverted his goalbound effort inches wide of the upright.
The visitors immediately started looking to pull back level, a ball over the top found Tom Handley but he fired weakly straight into Adams arms and shortly after Brain beat his marker before shooting just wide of the United goal.
Just past the hour mark United conceded a free-kick just outside the area, Handley fired the ball past the wall only to be denied by a superb fingertip save by Adams that took the ball out for a corner. When this was played in the ball dropped to a United boot but a failure to clear our lines fully saw the ball run to Merthyr’s Jamie Adams and he blasted the ball past his namesake from 20 yards to level the game at 2-2 with just under half an hour left for either side to grab a winner.
As we were almost at the final ten minutes, Lelan went close with a far post volley after a free-kick from the right had found its way to the far post and just a minute later the decisive strike came, Liddle and Emmanuel combined well to set up a shooting chance for Miles, this time Cogman could do nothing to stop him as the United man drilled home a low shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner and United were back in front.
A couple of half chances came for United to extend the lead as the game closed out. Liddle hit a curler from the edge of the box that drifted wide before Miles found Emmanuel in space but his shot was held by Cogman and with no major scares at either end thereafter the game closed out with an important three points for United making it seven points from three home games in a short spell of eight days.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Sponsors (Barnhill Community Centre) Man of the Match : Taylor Miles.
Photos by Anthony Mills.
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