NAFL League 1b
Ballynahinch United 3 Wellington Rec 1
Hunter produces a double as United humble another of the Division 1B promotion chasers writes Gilbert Cromie.
United entertained promotion contenders Wellington Rec at the Millbridge last Tuesday (26th April) as they continued their programme of end of season fixtures which has seen them show their very best form.
On the previous Saturday, United had dented the promotion hopes of Newcastle and there was a good representation of their supporters to see how this game would go. Fielding the same side that won at Newcastle, Keith Hamilton’s side started brightly and took the lead on 15 minutes when Stuart Hunter crossed for Dylan Carberry to head home.
Carberry was on the scoresheet again after half hour mark, however, it was for the opposition when he was unlucky enough to see a defensive clearance ricochet of his shin and into the net leaving McMullan helpless.
Just before half-time a good build up on the left wing involving Cheevers, Brashaw and Hunter saw the latter thread a pass toward the on-running Shaw which he could not reach. But the Wellington goal keeper and a defender failed to deal with it and the ball found the corner of the net.
Wellington are a very experienced team and United had been under a fair degree of pressure up to this point. In the second half they came out with a more direct game which made United more dangerous on the break. Dalton Tate made his return to the team after injury in the 60th minute and his impact was immediate. Some great passing between Millar, Crawford and Shaw led to Tate weaving his way through the Wellington penalty area. He passed to Hunter who dispatched the ball into the net to give the home team a 3-1 lead.
Wellington for all their efforts couldn’t breach United’s defence of Miller, Majury, Hayes and Brashaw backed up by Bryan McMullan’s excellent handling which provided the rock on which this victory was achieved supported in no small measure by an industrious midfield of Hunter, Wilson, Carberry and Crawford.
Matthew Shaw, Aaron Cheevers and second half replacement Ian McMullan worked tirelessly with their movement playing a massive contribution to what was another top class performance.
Ballynahinch United 2 UUJ 0
United entertained relegation strugglers at the Millbridge on Saturday afternoon and despite an unconvincing performance they came away with a 2-0 victory.
For most of the first half, the initiative was taken by UUJ who had a number of experienced players in their line-up and it took a disciplined performance in defence from Crawford, Hayes, Majury and Brashaw to keep them out.
As the first half progressed United’s midfield of Kelly, Hunter, Wilson and Carberry managed to get more possession which in turn gave Ian McMullan and Matthew Shaw a few half chances with McMullan going close with a spectacular overhead kick. Matthew Shaw who has been in excellent form gave United the lead on the half hour mark when he took a pass from Hunter on the left hand side of the penalty area before placing his past the advancing goalkeeper into the net.
In the second half, it was fairly well more of the same with UUJ pressing and United not really firing on all cylinders. Shaw gave the home team breathing space with a superb second goal. Good work on the right from Gavin Crawford saw the ball crossed over to the left hand side of the penalty area and he despatched the ball into the goal with a strong left foot shot that gave the UUJ keeper no chance.
Alex Miller and Dee Stewart entered the fray for the last third of the match and they worked hard all over the pitch to maintain United’s grip on the three points. Goalkeeper Bryan McMullan who had a generally quiet afternoon was called into action late in the game producing a number of outstanding saves to ensure a clean sheet and United’s steady climb up the league table.