Harry Worley came off the bench to claim a point for United at the Globe Arena this afternoon. Trailing to a late Kevin Ellison goal United threw caution to the wind to bring Worley on as a makeshift centre forward and were rewarded for that bravery as he flicked home an Alfie Potter cross with two minutes to go to make it six games unbeaten for the U's.
United started much the better of the two teams. Tom Craddock, returning up front with Sean Rigg moving to the left and Liam Davis dropping to the bench, flashed a shot across the face of goal after just 12 seconds and then forced keeper Barry Roche into a good save on eight minutes to keep out the striker’s effort with the outside of his boot as United pressed.
An Adam Chapman free kick on the edge of the area was scuttled away for a corner, Batt tested the keeper with a skidding effort on 15 and there was no question that the visiting team had dominated the early exchanges. However how many times have you seen a side do that then concede from the opposition’s first attack. That is precisely what looked on the cards on 25 minutes as Jack Redshaw looked certain to score as he rose to head the ball at a seemingly empty net after Richard Brodie had volleyed a deep cross back into the six yard box . Somehow Ryan Clarke appeared from nowhere to reach a hand up and flick the ball up and over the bar for the latest in a series of extraordinary saves that he had made for the U’s over the years.
That moment triggered better things from the home side with Jake Wright and the excellent Michael Raynes having to work hard and Damian Batt making a goal-saving tackle on 41 to stop Kevin Ellison as he stormed towards the exposed Clarke. All in all a half of two halves.
It was a well contested game with fifty-50 challenges competed for with no question, Chapman coming off second best in an early one in the second half and Wright making a tremendous block on 54 to throw his body in the way of a Brodie shot from fifteen yards.
The teams then took turns to try and find a breakthrough. Some patient build up play between Batt and Craddock allowed Potter to wriggle clear on 59 minutes and drive in a shot which Roche tipped away, but it took further brave blocks from Clarke and Batt in the 65th minute to deny first Stewart Drummond and then Redshaw once more.
Constable's cut back three minutes later was blazed over the Bay Radio Stand by Potter then Ellison helped the United defence by flicking a shot from team-mate Gary McDonald over the United crossbar.
However on 78 minutes Ellison made up for that touch with a decisive one. A simple left side corner was floated across the box and Ellison took full advantage of some hesitancy to prod the ball into the net to make it 1-0 with his tenth of the season.
The same player was only denied by Clarke again on 80 as the keeper came outside his area to win a race for a through ball, with United then taking the brave decision to bring Worley on up front and gamble on playing just three men at the back for the last ten minutes or so.
That paid off with two minutes to go as Potter used Batt's overlap as a decoy and burst to his left and into the area. Potter drilled the ball across and Worley was in the right place six yards out to touch the ball beyond Roche and earn United a deserved point.
Report by Chris Williams, photos by Darrell Fisher, Stats by Pa Sports