ON an extremely hot Saturday afternoon, the United entertained newcomers to the league Gainsborough Town, who arrived having only lost one game in their two previous seasons in both the Lincoln League and the Gainsborough League.
It was a much changed United side from the one that came runners up last season. There were debuts for Ryan O’Loughlin, Ross Muirhead, Ben Martin and Michael Howard, while last season’s Lincolnshire League top scorer Kurt Crossley was unavailable.
It was Gainsborough who started on the front foot, pressing the United players all over the field, and they deservedly took the lead on 15 minutes when a through ball found Joshua Nichol in acres of space in the centre and he went on to beat United keeper Ben Martin with a rising shot.
Seven minutes later and Town had two on the board when Nichol broke down the right this time and beat Ben Drysdale before firing past Martin in the United goal.
At this stage United looked shell-shocked and Town fully deserved their two goal lead.
After 25 minutes United began to get a foothold in the game as the stifling heat began to take its toll on the pressing game that Gainsborough had employed in the early stages.
On 35 minutes the game was turned on its head by a moment of brilliance from new signing Ryan O’Loughlin. Despite being unusually subdued in the first half hour, O’Loughlin received the ball in the middle of the field 30 yards from goal before unleashing a stunning strike which flew into the bottom corner, giving Andrews no chance.
It breathed new life into United’s play and they finished the half the stronger team with clear belief that they could get something from the game.
The game was now more even with United looking to get back on level terms. Gainsborough began to be a lot more direct as they were not being given the space to play that they were allowed in the first half.
Both sides had chances during the half, however as the game entered the last 15 minutes, United appeared to be the stronger.
On 85 minutes United’s perseverance paid off with the goal of the game, in a move that started from the home keeper and finally found its way to Drysdale on the left. He then ran at the Town defence before playing a delightful one-two with Watts just in side the area and then fired past Andrew’s at the near post for his first goal for the club.
United were not finished there and almost nicked all three points when a through ball from Hallam found Stainton, who took too long to get his shot off and allowed the defender to make the block.
Overall the result was a fair one and both sides will have been pleased to get points on the board on the opening day.
United manager Mark Hallam said: “Gainsborough will be contenders for the title this year on their first half showing.
“Having said that, to come from 2-0 down to take a point against a very good side and with so many new faces in the side shows what great character we have already built up in our dressing room.
“I’m proud of all my players efforts but attention quickly turns to Wednesday’s game away at Grimsby Borough Reserves, then back at Wainfleet Road on Saturday against Lincoln United Reserves.”
Man of the Match: Jordan Walden, Match Sponsors: BSP Holdings, Match Ball Sponsors: Churchills Sports & Wine Bar.
TEAM: Ben Martin, David Muirhead, Ben Drysdale, Jordan Walden, Adam Cowell, Kyle McGuigan, Mark Hallam, Arron Scutt, Michael Howard ( Paul Watts ), Ryan O’Loughlin, Luke Rayner-Mistry ( Jobe Stainton. Unused Subs: Sam Sleight, Sam Walker and Jordan Bloodworth.