Mark Molesley’s fourth match in charge of United saw a very much deserved point snatched away with the last kick of the game as table toppers Salisbury took the spoils at the RayMac on a cold November afternoon after United had given their all.
The gaffer stayed with the same line-up that should have faced off against then league leaders Gosport the previous week but for the weirdest of postponements with Watford loanee Charlie Stallard coming in for his debut, Omar Rowe returning from injury and a second start for striker Ayo Faniyan.
The opening ten minutes saw both sides really looking each other over and then the home side pounced on a defensive error that saw possession given away on the hosts right side, Charlie Gunson taking the ball and firing in a cross that Noah Coppin stooped to glance a header across Jacob Adams into the far corner and United were behind.
United then started to find their front foot and just a couple of minutes later Cole Brown fired a free-kick over from the right, Michael Fernandes collected the ball beyond the far post and set it back to Charlie Stallard but his shot from the edge of the box was a little too high to trouble Josh Gould in the home goal.
Still pushing ahead United were almost level in the seventeenth minute when a speculative Omar Rowe effort from 25 yards flew over Gould but didn’t dip enough and came back of the crossbar much to the home stopper’s relief.
Four minutes later though United were deservedly level. A slide-rule throughball saw Ayo Faniyan beat the offside trap before moving around Gould to slot home his first United goal which was a joy for everybody to see after the striker spent about a year out injured from the beginning of last season, a reward for all the hard work to get back playing again.
United continued to look for another straight away, Rowe fired in a free-kick to Fernandes who controlled the ball and shot on the turn only for Gould to hold comfortably and two minutes later a long Adams goal-kick sailed over the Whites defence to Steve Ngunga, he advanced and shot from distance, beating Gould only for his effort to crash back off the bar to safety and the hosts survived again.
The table toppers came back into the game in the final third of the first half. A short corner to Coppin saw him try his luck from 20 yards but Adams easily dealt with the effort and a minute later Gunson again crossed from the right, this time driven low into the six yard box whereby a diving Adams took the ball off former United striker Sam Ashton’s toes and the United defence did the rest to clear the danger.
Still the Whites pushed on, Coppin played a low ball in from the left to Josh Hedges, the hosts player being denied by a point blank Stallard block six yards out and again the danger was cleared.
Chances continued into first half stoppage time for both sides. Gould saved from skipper Sanmi Odelusi after good work from Fernandes and then quickly at the other end the Whites broke quickly with Gunson, he played the ball to Hedges on the left and his drilled low cross only just evaded a sliding Ashton at the far post.
Final chance of the half went to United as Ngunga collected the ball on the wing, he cut inside and curled a shot towards the far post that Gould fingertipped around the post however the subsequent corner was dealt with easily and the half closed with honours even.
United came out for the second half full of intent and really took the game to the hosts, just 20 seconds had elapsed when Fernandes cut out a poor defensive pass by the home side, his 20 yard effort being touched wide by the diving Gould and two minutes later Ngunga crossed to the far post but Fernandes could only find the side netting with his header.
Still United pushed and harried the home side not giving them time to play out from the back and in the 50th minute another poor pass was intercepted, this time by Rowe who saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected inches over the top of Gould’s goal.
Another opening on 52 minutes saw Ronan Silva drive the ball across the Whites area, the slightest of touches from Gould seeing the ball hit Fernandes at the far post but the ball rolled wide of the target once more.
The home side then decided to wake from their slumber and started to make some forwards moves of their own, as we moved past the hour mark a deep cross from the right was headed down by substitute Dan Fitchett to Gunson but he blazed over the bar when well placed to test Adams.
With twenty minutes left on the watch of normal time United conceded a free-kick right on the edge of the box, Whites skipper Sido Jombarti stepped up and despite beating the defensive wall his effort sailed wide of the United goal with Adams again untroubled.
As we entered a minimum and five additional minutes at the end it was the home side who looked to be the only side who were going to win the game however staunch defending from United looked to be keeping them at bay.
Right on 90 minutes Gunson collected the ball in the United box and fed Fitchett who saw his effort superbly blocked by Marvel Ekpiteta who needed treatment after throwing himself in dangers way to deny the striker and three minutes later a Salisbury corner was deflected by Stallard whose touch was just enough to put off Fitchett who got his head to the ball but his effort was too high.
The fifth minute of stoppage time saw the save of the game from United’s Jacob Adams as a 25 yard drive took a wicked deflection and looked to be sailing over the United stopper but for a full stretch acrobatic tip over to keep the scores level. Sadly the resultant corner was to lead to the decisive strike for the home side as initial kick was cleared then recycled into the six yard box, this saw a double block on the goalline before Wayne Robinson forced the ball home with what was to be the penultimate touch of the game and United undeservedly fell to defeat.
Report by Kevin Watts.
United Man of the Match: Sanmi Odelusi.
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