United start pre-season with a win
The U's started pre-season with a win on a glorious summer's day at Ardley today. Alfie Potter's goal early in the second half was cancelled out by a Ryan Brooks equaliser before Deane Smalley's last gasp header earned the U's a 2-1 win.
United fielded two distinct sides in the two halves. In the first they started with Ryan Clarke in goal, David Hunt at right back, Jake Wright and Matt Heath at centre half and David Lynn at left back. In midfield Scott Davies, Jon Meades, Andy Whing and Sean Rigg looked to provide the ammunition for Ty Marsh and James Constable up front.
Marsh flicked a fourth minute effort over the bar but Ardley, managed by U’s legend Kevin Brock held their own in the first half and gave United a scare in the 14th minute as a shot from Bryan cannoned back off the bar with Clarke beaten. Centre-half Heath, most recently at Colchester, looked dominant in the air as United kicked down the sizeable slope in the new look yellow shirts but they were unable to find a goal in the opening period.
Meades, who looked full of running and ideas in the centre of midfield, saw a well struck shot saved on 29, Marsh had a shot saved towards the end of the first half but there was no breakthrough as United eased into things and gradually found their touch and timing.
The starting eleven had worked extremely hard in the beating sun and will probably have had mixed feelings to see their replacements find the net after just three minutes of the second half. Kitson closed down the keeper and crossed for Potter who jinked past a defender and knocked his shot past the keeper from 12 yards to make it 1-0 on 48 minutes.
Callum O’Dowda then impressed with a tricky run past four people and a cross that just eluded Deane Smalley and Smalley lobbed a 71st minute shot over the bar from the edge of the area.
That second half team saw Max Crocombe in goal with young trialists Kenzer Lee and Matt Bevans joining Michael Raynes and Tom Newey at the back. Lee, a young centre half from West Ham and Bevans, a right back from Watford both looked athletic and will travel with the squad to Scotland this week. In midfield Danny Rose and Asa Hall combined with Potter and O’Dowda while new signing Kitson and Smalley both did well in attack.
Ardley had been perfect hosts and the crowd of 670 will have helped them enjoy a very good day in the sun. They worked very hard and on 74 drew level when ref John Farries awarded a penalty for a nudge by Lee on Costello just inside the box. Former United scholar Ryan Brooks, brother of another United legend Jamie, tucked the spot kick away confidently to make it 1-1 with sixteen minutes to go.
The Yellows pressed and gave it a real go to get their win. Potter tested the keeper with an 87th minute effort Smalley forced keeper Harding into an 88th minute save and then from the resulting corner Rose pinged the ball in, Smalley rose and his thumping header found the net to win the game.
The result is immaterial but this was a great workout against a team who gave it everything and played it the right way. United will face harder tests but this was a very good start.
United (First Half): Clarke, Meades, Wright, Rigg, Constable, Hunt, Heath, Whing, Davies, Marsh, Lynn
(Second Half) Crocombe, Newey, Raynes, Kitson, Smalley, Potter, Hall, Rose, Bevans, O’Dowda, Lee
Report by Chris Williams
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