United through to next round
Thursday, 16 February 2017
IT WASN'T pretty and certainly far from as comfortable as the final score might suggest but all that will interest Paul Owens now is that his United side are in the hat for the quarter-final draw after twice coming from behind to defeat the visitors who ultimately lost their discipline and finished with nine men.
United went into the match with a seriously depleted squad, giving a rare start for Marcus O'Kane at right back and the reshuffled side was very poor in the first half.
They fell behind in the sixth minute as the defence was pulled all over the place, failing to clear the ball and giving Murphy far too much space to pass to Darren Murray who slotted the ball home from inside the box. It was a goal entirely attributable to poor defending and there could have been another within three minutes as Murphy's effort from wide on the right had to be tipped over by Wells.
United were entirely unable to get going and needed a 12th minute block from Crown to keep the score to a single goal.
The swirling wind and uneven pitch did not help the home side's style of play, nor did some of their opponents' tactics. Darren Murray was lucky to escape with a yellow card after elbowing Crown in the face on 17 minutes but three minutes later, Campbell was sent from the field for an atrocious tackle on McFadden.
United quickly profited, equalising four minutes later when McCready pounced on a loose ball just inside Star's half, shook off three defenders, rounding the keeper before shooting in from an acute angle. However their relief was short lived as they fell behind again four minutes later. A McLaughlin shot from outside the box ricocheted off Carlin, with the deflection completely wrong footing Wells.
Despite the numerical advantage, the home side were creating very little with their only other chance of the half a 31st minute free kick from Owens which he got up and over the wall but also over the bar.
McCready did set up Hume with a 36th chance but despite the neat approach play, the shot was deflected wide. It was a frustrated group of players who trudged off at the break with no one able to say he was on top of his game.
*Read the full story in this week's Northern Constitution.
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