With just a few days left of the season, it was somewhat strange that United faced up against Tiverton Town at the SKYex on Monday evening for what was the first meeting between the sides this season due to various rearrangements due to cup games and postponements.
With both sides suffering from injuries after a long hard season, and the visitors having to travel a great distance midweek, as we will have to for the return on Thursday having played a cup final the night before, the visitors gave a chance to four of their successful under 18 side including 16 year-old goalkeeper Ollie Saunders.
United started well with Jean-Baptiste Fischer collecting a pass 20 yards out in just the fifth minute, his well struck shot curling just the wrong side of the upright. Just three minutes later though the deadlock was broken. Amos Nasha fed Sanmi Odelusi on the right wing, his low centre was controlled by Moses Emmanuel with his back to goal, the striker shooting left footed on the turn and despite ‘keeper Ollie Saunders getting a hand to the ball it continued into the net just inside the post.
United continued to push forwards after this, Hassan Jalloh and Adam Liddle combined with the latter outpacing his marker and shooting from a tight angle, Saunders did well to block the effort away although in hindsight the United man maybe should have picked out the unmarked Jalloh who had continued his run into the middle of the box.
United doubled the lead in the 19th minute, a defensive clearance was picked up by Taylor Miles 20 yards from goal, his dipping volley flying over Saunders into the far corner giving the young stopper no chance.
Goals started to flow now and four minutes later United had another. Jalloh again sent Liddle through but having been driven wide by his defender a corner was earned with a deflected shot. The short corner was played to Odelusi who set it nicely for Nasha, his shot was pushed out one handed by Saunders, Liddle’s follow-up was blocked back to Nasha who fired goalwards again with Jerry Wiltshire on hand to nod the ball home at the far post.
Just before the half hour mark United had a fourth. Wiltshire played a neat one-two with Jalloh on the left of the Tiverton box, Josh Jones partially cleared the cross but the loose ball was collected by Miles on the right, his firmly struck cross being superbly volleyed past his own ‘keeper by Jones at the near post.
With no further goalmouth action, the half closed with the result basically decided with United 4-0 ahead.
A first half injury to Tarik Moore-Azille saw Cole Brown arrive into the fray for the second half as manager Paul Hughes re-shaped his back-line with Odelusi moving to play in the centre of the United defence.
It took eight minutes for United to add a fifth when Liddle fed the ball forwards to Miles, he sent Emmanuel into the box on the left side and from the acutest of angles the striker bagged his second of the evening beating Saunders at the near post.
Two minutes later the visitors went close themselves when a deep corner from the right was headed goalwards by Josh Jones but the defender was denied by an excellent Jack Smith save as the returning United stopper seemed to somehow claw the ball out from behind himself before his defence helped by clearing the danger.
Number 6 and another for Emmanuel came in the 63rd minute when Jalloh brought the ball away from the edge of his own box and played a pass perfectly into Emmanuel’s run, the striker easily rounding Saunders on the edge of the box before firing into the empty net to complete his hat-trick.
Smith was again called into action on 69 minutes as Cameron Salmon’s cross from the right was flicked goalwards by Lucas Vowles, the United stopper pushing his effort around the post and then just a few minutes later the woodwork came to United’s rescue when an audacious 40 yard effort from Louis Morison flew over Smith before going over off the top of the crossbar.
United still pushed for more and on 78 minutes Liddle laid the ball off to substitute Jamie Hanlon who, on his return from injury, was denied by a well placed Saunders who held his shot.
Number 7 and another quad-trick for Emmanuel came with five minutes remaining, Cole Brown’s shot was blocked out to Liddle who found Jalloh, his neat pass to Emmanuel saw the striker ease past his marker before firing home across Saunders into the far corner making United’s Supporters’ Player of the Year joint top scorer for the Premier South Golden Boot with Swindon’s Harry Williams on 31 goals.
There was still time for the visitors to strike the United woodwork again with a minute remaining, Dylan Jones shot from just outside the box looping up off Wiltshire’s hip before striking the crossbar once again with Brown volleying the rebound to safety and that was it for another season at the SKYex with a cup final and two long distance away trips remaining in just four days to end the campaign.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Sponsors (Barnhill Community Centre) Man of the Match : Moses Emmanuel.
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