For those hoping for goals goals goals the SKYex was the place to be on Saturday afternoon as United and Poole Town shared eight goals, between them hit the woodwork three times and after 14 added minutes it was to be Hayes & Yeading that claimed the points just before six o’clock with an accident delaying the arrival and Poole’s kit and players boots forcing a late kick-off.
Manager Ritchie Hanlon shuffled his pack from the FA Cup game last weekend with new signing Mauro Vilhete taking a place in the United midfield while both Jack Williams and Jerry Wiltshire sat this one out through suspension.
The opening five minutes was to see both sides find the net. In just the third minute Cameron Murray for the visitors sent an offside looking Toby Holmes through on goal, Jacob Adams came out to meet him but the Poole player clipped the ball over his dive and chased it down for an easy tap in at the post.
The lead was to last just two minutes thankfully as Omar Rowe sent over a cross from the right wing, Sam Ashton controlled the ball back to goal six yards out and set it back nicely to Sean O’Brien after a couple of ricochet's fired past Poole ‘keeper Will Butler for his first strike in United’s colours.
This game was certainly not going to be for the faint hearted and both managers must have been pulling their hair out with some of the defending while attack wise both sides were “on their game”.
Twelve minutes had passed and another chance sprung up for the visitors as a free-kick from the left of the United box was met in the middle by Jamie Whisken, his flicked header going wide of Adams’ goal.
A similar move at the other end just a few minutes later saw O’Brien play in a free-kick from the right, debutant Mauro Vilhete flicked his header goalwards only to strike the base of the post with the ball going safely wide.
Just before the half hour mark another chance fell to Whisken, a corner was played into a crowded United six yard box but the tall defender could only hook his shot over the bar without troubling Adams.
In the 32nd minute, excellent footwork on the left saw Vilhete feed the ball to Sam Ashton in the box, his quick turn drew a trip and referee Gospel pointed to the spot. Ashton dusted himself down before firmly beating Butler from 12 yards to turn the game in United’s favour (photo above).
Poole came straight back at United, a flicked cross found Wes Fogden in the area, his shot was well defended by Paul Field and five minutes later a speculative 30-yard effort from Alefe Santos D’Abadia was grabbed by Adams at the second attempt.
The same player went closer just two minutes later when his dipping effort from 20 yards beat Adams only to crash back off the United crossbar for the defence to clear away and after a few more minutes the half drew to a close with United a goal to the good.
The visitors really came out with their tails up and United started to retreat into a defensive formation. Adams was in action early on as Luke Pardoe fired goalwards from 20 yards, the United stopper diving to push his shot away to safety and five minutes later the ball was allowed to run loose in the United box with a superbly timed Cole Brown tackle denying Santos D’Abadia a clean shot on goal.
Just sixty seconds later the United box continued to be where the ball found itself when a neat clip over to Holmes saw his shot on the turn well saved by Adams and then soon after a free-kick by Murray picked out an unmarked Declan Rose beyond the far post, his snapshot flying over United’s goal.
A minute past the hour United’s first real sight of goal since the break saw Omar Rowe collect the ball on the far side of the Poole area, his low shot however was well saved by Butler’s outstretched boot.
Within a minute the visitors were level and on the balance of play since the interval, deservedly so. Holmes had possession in the United area and went down under challenge from Field with the referee once again pointing to the spot. Tony Lee stepped up and smashed the ball straight down the middle to make it 2-2.
Equality only lasted two minutes however as United were soon in front once more. Cole Brown broke away down the right leaving Poole's Santos D'Abadia on the deck, his perfect low pull-back found Ashton a couple of yards from goal and his instant control at the post as Butler dived behind him enabled him to flick the ball home (photo above right).
Poole were almost back level again in the 72nd minute when a poor touch by the United defence saw the ball drop kindly to Luke Nippard but he fired straight into Adams’ midriff when well placed to level the match.
Still the pressure came from the visitors and a minute later Holmes moved past Tarik Moore-Azille who had slipped trying to block, his low centre being sliced clear by Brown in front of his own goal with the clearance striking his own post before going wide.
United looked to be holding out for a massive victory which looked more straight forward on 88 minutes when Ashton received the ball just outside the Poole area, his slide-rule pass to the left found substitute Jamie Hanlon who stroked the ball first time low past Butler into the far corner for his second of the season.
The board then went up to show 9 additional minutes, water breaks and injuries the main causes as temperatures in the 90’s continued on the hottest day of the year.
In the second minute of added time Ashton found another substitute in the shape of Steve Ngunga who cut inside and curled a shot towards goal that Butler did well to push away to safety, a feat repeated by Butler at 90+9, this time denying Rowe after a run and shot from the United man.
One of United’s best moves of the season brought number 5 in the eleventh minute of added time. The very impressive Nasha danced around several challenges on the right flank feeding Ngunga, his back-heel returned the ball to Nasha who then fed Hanlon who also back-heeled the ball this time to the approaching Rowe who smashed it home giving Butler no chance.
That late in the game surely the scoring had finished, not a chance as two minutes later as Brown's clumsy challenge in the United area saw referee Gospel point to the spot for a third time and once again Lee smashed the ball down the middle from 12 yards to reduce the deficit to what was to be the final score with United taking all three points with a thrilling 5-3 victory.
Report by Kevin Watts.
United Man of the Match: Sam Ashton.
Photos by Anthony Mills.
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