United continued their American tour with a 1-1 draw against the Seacoast United Phantoms this evening. Tony Capaldi’s 15th minute free kick gave the U’s the lead until a 77th minute equaliser from Dylan George pegged them back in an entertaining second half.
The U’s welcomed Alfie Potter back to the starting line-up and it was almost as though the striker had never been away with some weaving runs and nice interplay with strikers James Constable and Sean Rigg up front. It was interesting to note that the right-footed Potter started to the left of the trio with Rigg, naturally left side, to the right of Constable, giving United a compact front line.
Midfielder Lee Cox, again impressive in the holding role, provided a solid base for the hard-working Simon Heslop and Jake Forster-Caskey to join that front three, while Damian Batt, Michael Raynes, Jake Wright and Capaldi formed a very solid back line in front of Ryan Clarke who wasn’t forced into action until the 58th minute when he tipped a Scott Rowling drive over the bar.
Capaldi has looked good all through pre-season and showed that he could be a valuable asset from dead balls as well when he stepped up for a 15th minute free-kick and hammered it through the defensive wall to make it 1-0 after Potter had been upended by Jordan Thomas as close to the penalty box as possible.
United once again created chances with Constable looking sharp and forcing two saves as well as sending two reasonable chances just over the bar, while Rigg’s second half run was denied right at the death by home keeper Colin O’Donnell.
United experimented a little for the final half hour, with Tom Craddock and Deane Smalley coming on up front and Heslop and Rigg moving wider to make it 4-4-2 at times, and it will be interesting to see the team shape materialise over the remaining few games before the season proper.
On this occasion it didn’t quite fire and the Phantoms were a stronger outfit than Tuesday night’s opposition. They gradually raised the tempo to ask questions of the United defence more than any other pre-season opposition and were rewarded on 77 when George broke clear and finished neatly across Clarke from just inside the box.
It was probably fair on the second half performances, but as we said after the very first game, a win over West Ham, results are not important until United take on Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup. Tonight they could easily have won it when Capaldi, Heslop and Rigg all saw shots knocked away from on the line within ten seconds in the 85th minute. Would that have made a it a better work-out? Perhaps not, but this was another competitive exercise and once again Seacoast played the game in the true spirit of the game to provide a more than useful test.
United are next in action against the Jim Dedeus XI on Monday night.
Clarke, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Capaldi, Cox, Heslop, Forster-Caskey, Potter (Smalley 61), Constable (Craddock 61), Rigg