kEEN to maintain their current form, United played host to Sleaford Town Reserves at Wainfleet Road on Saturday.
United, as ever, started brightly with 18 year old Rayner-Mistry forcing a great save from the Sleaford keeper early in the match. This, however, was countered, somewhat against the run of play when Sleaford broke through the United defence and the prolific Tony Edwards who usually turns out for Sleafords first team, slid the ball past United ‘keeper Martin to give the visitors an early lead.
This galvanised United to push on and ‘step up another gear’. The blossoming partnership between Crossley and O’Loughlin linked well; with Crossley feeding O’Loughlin to force another good save from the Sleaford ‘keeper.
Crossley finally levelled the match when he finished the move he started. After picking out Muirhead overlapping on the right he continued his run and when the young full back pulled the ball back Crossley was able to side foot home to make it 1-1.
The customary flowing football from United then began to shine through. Refereeing decisions and a dubious offside call from the referee’s assistant denied Rayner-Mistry a perfectly good goal. Unfortunately, this ruined some of the United momentum as the team, were getting frustrated by the officials decision making.
United’ persistence finally paid off after another jinking, mazy run from O’Loughlin caused the Sleaford player to turn the ball into his own net for an own goal (despite O’Loughlin claiming it for himself). There was no doubting United’s third goal leading into half-time where a fine passing move involving Howard, Crossley and finally O’Loughlin allowed him to fire home his eleventh of the season, maintaining his record of scoring in every United game so far and giving United a 3-1 lead at the break.
The second half saw United take the game to Sleaford and try to squeeze for a fourth goal. This pressure saw O’Loughlin denied a second goal by the goalpost. Unfortunately, the game turned sour when captain Walden was dismissed by the official in contentious circumstances. This angered the players, fans and management, causing United to be fired up to punish Sleaford despite being down to 10 men.
This passion led the team to create a number of chances, including a nice move from McGuigan, Rayner-Mistry and Crossley, with the latter firing just over the bar, and minutes later Skinner missing a headed attempt from only a yard. United scored a fourth through a screaming shot from McGuigan from 20 yards which gave the keeper no chance.
In the final minutes McGuigan capped his man of the match performance with his second goal after tremendous work by Crossley who unselfishly squared the ball when he could have scored himself to allow McGuigan to make it 5-1 which is the way it finished, sending the United back to the top of the league with games in hand.
United have also been awarded the Sills & Betteridge Team of the Month award for September after four wins in a row.
After the match, manager Mark Hallam said of the victory, “Unfortunately the officials took the shine off another solid performance against a decent Sleaford side today. It’s nice to be back on top, but there’s a long way to go yet and we will be taking it one game at a time.”
United’s next match is on Saturday when they travel to the Ivy Tavern in Lincoln for a tricky Lincs Junior Cup tie, Kick off 2.30pm.
Team: Martin, McGuigan, Muirhead, Skinner, Walden, Drysdale, Chamberlain, Rayner-Mistry, Crossley, O’Loughlin (Sleight), Howard (Keal)
Man of the Match: Kyle McGuigan