A three goal salvo in 11 minutes late in the first half was enough to see United take maximum points by the odd goal in five against play-off positioned Metropolitan Police at the SKYex on a cold Tuesday evening.
Manager Paul Hughes made two changes from the previous starting XI with new signing Roger James and Taylor Miles replacing Amos Nasha and Danny Green who both dropped to the bench for this one.
As is often the case against a very tough opponent, the game took a while to get into any sort of rhythm with the first opening dropping to the visitors in the 17th minute when a corner was only cleared as far as Police skipper Luke Robertson who tried his luck from 20 yards but was wide of the target.
Five minutes later a sweeping move saw the visitors play the ball wide to the right to an unmarked Connor Lee, his excellent centre found Martell Taylor-Crossdale arriving perfectly to tap the ball home at the far post.
Going behind seemed to jar United into life however. On the half hour Taylor Miles won possession 25 yards from goal and fired in a quick shot that was just wide of the target and just 60 seconds later Roger James on debut collected the ball 20 yards out and tried his luck, a wicked deflection taking the ball beyond Liam Beach for a United equaliser.
Five minutes later United had turned the game on its head as Adam Liddle twisted and turned in the box only to be tripped by Kyron Richards with referee Warren pointing to the spot. Moses Emmanuel made no mistake from 12 yards and United were ahead.
2-1 was to become 3-1 in the 41st minute, after Beach had saved comfortably from a Liddle overhead kick, the cleared ball fell to Hassan Jalloh who played through a super pass into Emmanuel’s run and the striker did the rest netting his 17th of the season.
On the stroke of half-time, Emmanuel almost had another as this time a lovely clipped Jalloh pass saw Emmanuel get to the ball first but his effort was blocked away well by Beach who closed the striker down quickly.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half saw a dominant United looking for a fourth. Emmanuel raced onto another throughball but his shot was saved by the diving Beach on 54 minutes and two minutes later Beach again denied United, this time touching a Taylor Miles free-kick from an acute angle around the post.
Just before the hour a stooping Charlie Wassmer header came back off the bar and this was quickly followed by an Emmanuel cross-cum-shot from a tight angle that Beach clawed out from under his own crossbar and shortly after Liddle tried his luck from range after Cameron Green had intercepted a pass and fed the ball quickly to the striker.
With United dominating proceedings, it was a real kick in the teeth in the 67th minute when the ball fell to Lee about 25 yards from the United goal, his drive being perfectly hit with the ball sailing over Simon Grant and the visitors were back in the game.
Two minutes later United had yet another chance to put some distance between the sides as Emmanuel raced through only to be denied yet again by Beach who pushed the effort to safety at full stretch.
With 15 minutes to play United were almost caught out as Grant came out to kick clear, Ollie Knight slid in to block the kick and the ball flew back towards the United goal but thankfully went inches wide of the upright.
The final time was played out with the visitors having more possession but making little of it and United closed out with a fine victory that saw the visitors fall to defeat for the first time in 2023.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Anthony Mills.
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