United ended their American tour with a comfortable 4-1 win over the Jim Dedeus XI this evening at Portsmouth High School, New Hampshire. Goals from Tommy Craddock, JP Pittman, James Constable and Alfie Potter eased United to a win and gave Manager Chris Wilder food for thought as the competition for places up front hots up.
This was another more than useful exercise for United who took a look at all three trialists who made the journey. Centre halves Ryan Tafazoli from Southampton and Alex Evans from Cardiff played the full 90 minutes and complemented each other, the former taller and attacking the ball and Evans mopping up and making some good challenges. Midfielder Courtney Harris also played the full game and looked composed on the ball as the ‘holder’ behind lee Cox and Jake Forster-Caskey.
It was the strikers who caught the eye most though with both Craddock and Pittman scoring well taken goals in the first half. Craddock’s goal came on 30 minutes as captain for the night Damian Batt crossed accurately from the right to leave the striker with a simple finish from ten yards.
The home side, made up of the best players from the PDL, were competitive and good on the ball but had rarely threatened Wayne Brown’s goal in the opening exchanges, but on 31 were level as Eddie Jones got in behind the static United back-line and finished neatly with a lob over the stranded Brown.
United will have felt a little hard done by to be level, and deservedly went ahead a minute before the break as Forster-Caskey’s deft chipped cross from the left picked out Pittman in acres of space to smash a well -controlled volley past the keeper to make it 2-1 at the break.
The second half saw Constable and Potter replace Deane Smalley and Pittman, with Constable seeing an early shot blocked and Potter side-footing another effort too close to the keeper on 55 minutes, before Sean Rigg completed the front line change just before the hour mark.
With Jake Wright coming on for Tony Capaldi soon after it was a case of giving as many players as possible some action, and the second half became a little fragmented as a result. Ryan Malone stabbed a decent chance wide of Brown’s goal on 68, before United gave Seacoast’s Brad Hilton a run-out for the last 20 minutes in place of Damian Batt and brought on Michael raynes as a holding midfielder.
United made it 3-1 on 74 when Constable latched on to the ball on the right side of the area and lashed an accurate shot across the keeper and into the far corner, and on 79 it was 4-1 as Potter raced on to a well-paced pass from Constable and again fired across the keeper, this time from the left side of the area.
Four goals from four strikers and the perfect end to a very successful tour. With Smalley scoring in the first game, Rigg in the second, all six strikers have scored in the three games and that competition for places looks very healthy as we build towards the big kick-off.
We have said it before and will say it again: results are immaterial in pre-season. The games are all about players getting sharp and building confidence and team spirit as well as momentum. United are going well so far and will now test themselves against Cardiff City on Saturday. See you there.
Brown, Batt (Hilton 70), Evans, Tafazoli, Capaldi (Wright 65), Harris, Cox (Raynes 74), Forster-Caskey, Pittman (Potter 46), Smalley (Constable 46), Craddock (Rigg 58)