The League Champions went to Battle for their last season outing and came away with a solid win.
The 2-1 victory was hard fought but the United shot count was 19 to the Knights’ 12.
Luckily most shots on both sides were well wide of the mark or it could have been a rugby score.
With the trophy won, the fact that Coach Russ was kept away by traffic didn’t seem to matter as much but it was interesting to see how United stepped up to play 40 minutes with no subs and no maestro at the back pulling the strings.
Instead Massive Mark called the shots and Blakey, Peruvian Mick and Cookie Monster did the defending between them.
For the first two minutes the Knights couldn’t get out of their own half and United were turning the screw. But silly fouls were conceded which let Battle off the hook.
Shots were exchanged at either end. Mark was all over it, bossing the forward line and Dougie and Gary Walsh looked very dangerous on the break.
After a good spell of possession it was GW who broke the deadlock with a low drive which Ricky DLTN couldn’t reach. It came from a Hastings block on a free kick and rebounded to Gary who nailed it. One-nil Battle.
The goal galvanised United who started to play some attractive football. There were shots from MM, El Jay and Mick but nothing on target.
Then on 16 minutes, Blakey surged forward, turned Dougie and laid on a perfect ball for Cookie to bury it from just left of the ‘D’.
The equaliser brought Battle back to life and Dougie linked well with GW to carve through United’s midfield with the best move of the match. Sadly Gary shot wide and the move came to nothing.
An El Jay curler right on half time could have put the visitors ahead but it was just outside the upright. One-all at half time with nothing to play for but pride.
Two minutes into the second period, Cookie’s long-range effort from halfway took everyone by surprise and drew no applause because nobody realised he had scored, least of all Battle’s keeper! It was a wonderful strike and allowed United to slow things down and play unfazed football.
Blakey had three thumping shots just inches wide and at the other end, GW and that Ersin had efforts on goal but just couldn’t get back into the game.
Mark and Mick linked beautifully together twice but their shots didn’t match the moves.
Cookie missed his hat-trick by inches as a super ball from MM saw him fire into the side netting. El Jay was blue- carded for his third running offence (the United foul count was now over 20 free kicks conceded) but the Knights couldn’t capitalize on having the extra man and Ricky made an easy high save from their only effort. In the last minute, he saved well to his left from GW to give his team the win.
The match was played in good spirit, doughnuts afterwards, the travelling fans in their demountable five-seater seating system were pleased, Up Start looked after Blakey’s dog (Bella) and our man of the match was Mark. He was a fine target all evening, held the ball up well and even though the goal gods didn’t smile on him, he was a thorn in Battle’s side and gave his all for 40 minutes.
For the Knights, Dougie was the outstanding player of the evening.
The win laid the ghost of the Pilot Field penalty defeat by Battle and was a fitting end to a superb season. Congratulations to all those involved on and off the pitch.