United 3-3 Dumbarton
A much changed squad from United's Women’s Team's victory against Stranraer last week arrived at Scotstoun for a home tie against Dumbarton. A mixture of injuries, suspensions and unavailability meant a change in shape was required. The Sons had provided pre-season opposition for United in a very close 3-2 defeat away from home. United had gone 2-0 up in that game so the side knew there was damage to be done.
Unfortunately the start to this game didn't go as well as the friendly fixture. For a minute last week's victory looked like a castle built on sand when a combination of the opposition's pace in attack and individual errors saw United 2-0 down within 15 minutes.
Having been caught cold United came back into the game. Nikki D latched on to an excellent long pass from Emma to slot low past the Dumbarton keeper and halve her side's arrears. For a player playing in an unfamiliar position, and well out of her comfort zone, Nikki looked absolutely lethal and determined to build on an excellent performance the previous week against Stranraer. It wasn't just Nikki though as the entire central spine of the team worked tirelessly to work the ball forward into dangerous positions.
At 2-1 United were back in the game. A goal line stramash saw a shot from Flo rebound off the inside of the post, agonisingly close to going over the line. The period of ascendancy wasn't to last long though as Dumbarton’s pace down the right wing would once again prove deadly as their winger - easily their best player - got in behind the United defence to slot past Clare in the home side’s goal. At 3-1 things looked bleak for United but heads never dropped and a huge amount of credit should go to the players for their determination to get back into the game. Just as it seemed the visitors would go into half-time in an almost insurmountable position, Emma, who played an exemplary box to box role from a deep position, hit a looping shot from all of 20 yards which beat the keeper and dropped into the back of the net.
Half time came and at 3-2 there was real hope from United that they could, not only regain an even footing, but perhaps take all three points.
United came out all guns blazing in the second half. The midfield pairing of Emma and Doc combining with Janika and Nikki combined to play lethal balls in behind a tiring Dumbarton defence. Those on the touch line were increasingly certain that an equaliser was coming and didn't have to wait long.
Latching on to another great through ball Nikki was strong in the box, going shoulder to shoulder with the Dumbarton defender. The United player’s strength paid off and the defender tumbled to the ground, handling the ball in the process, and United were awarded a penalty. Confident to finish what she started, Nikki stepped and slotted calmly to the keeper’s right. 3-3 and with the home side in the ascendancy they definitely looked the more likely to take the victory.
As the referee’s stopwatch ticked on United dominated possession in midfield and Nikki continued to look dangerous up front with Emma working tirelessly to supply the chances. The comeback was nearly complete with 10 minutes left when Nikki got herself on the end of a fantastic ball from Emma. With a killer first touch she went clear through on goal but was denied her hat-trick, and all three points for her team, by an amazing save from Dumbarton's goalkeeper.
Dumbarton summoned a late rally and applied some pressure late in the game but United never looked like losing a well earned point. As the final whistle sounded there was even one or two disappointed faces, which is an enormous credit considering they were 1-3 behind at one point.
Now unbeaten for two games United head into a tough game with the league’s form side, Renfrew, next week but with players returning they will do so in the most confident possible mood.
UNITED: Clare, Babz (Cathy), Steph, Celisse, Jackie, Flo (Nikki W), Hannah D, Emma, Janika (Suha), Robyn (Ellie), Nikki D.
Goals: Nikki D (x2), Emma