United 2-4 Crookston
April was a prosperous month for United Men’s Saturday Team. Back-to-back wins over Third Lanark were followed up by victory in Paisley vs Inchinnan Valley that propelled them above the latter in the table. That three match winning streak was halted last week by a 2-5 defeat vs Newshot though, and a shift in momentum wasn’t ideal as they visited WoSAFL Division 1 champions, Crookston, on Saturday already with a point to prove after a 0-8 drubbing last time they played.
It was clear early on another drubbing was not on the cards. The opening quarter of the match brought little action of note and United looked assured on the ball but often struggled to link up with Mohamed Mna up front. Crookston took the lead after half an hour in the blink of an eye. The first time in the match that Chris and Chayna had been pulled out of position, United’s back-four were exploited as the attacker reached a measured pass and dispatched the ball beyond Fraser. United were not behind for long as Harry found space in the box to cross the ball only to see his cross blocked by a Crookston hand. Gerry's last penalty was saved vs Newshot back in March, the first of 8 he had ever failed to convert in United threads. There had been whispers perhaps somebody might relieve him of his duties for the next one. Nobody dared take the ball from him when the moment came on Saturday though and he gave the goalkeeper absolutely no chance as his effort exploded into the net from 12yards.
That set the game up nicely. Both teams looked to retake momentum and notch another goal before half time but that to-and-fro came to an abrupt halt 10mins before half time. Crookston’s attacker beat the out-rushing Fraser to reach a through-ball. The attacker collapsed into the United keeper and, despite Paul Georgie mopping up behind him and clearing the ball to safety, the referee ruled it was a last-man tackle and worthy of a straight red-card. A very dubious decision, a yellow certainly looked more appropriate. Though initially deployed at left-back, Paul happens to be United’s deputy goalkeeper. He took the gloves as Fraser trudged off and United battened down the hatches until half-time for the chance to re-organise.
Crookston re-took the lead shortly after half-time when Kwaby was unlucky to watch his attempt to clear a cross slice into Paul’s near post. Kevin had a great chance to bring United level again shortly after but shot straight at the goalkeeper. To give the keeper credit; his great reflexes palmed it over the crossbar, but had his shot been either side of him it was a certain, and well-earned, goal for Kevin after Kosar had tee’d him up on his right foot. Will and Davy T replaced Mohamed Mna and Kevin as fresh legs were required playing so long with a player less. Crookston extended their lead in dubious circumstances when Kosar had put the ball out for a corner to let Paul Georgie receive treatment for a head-knock sustained scrambling to clear a low drive at the second attempt. Crookston looked like returning the ball at first but instead launched another attack which ended with the ball fired low into the United net.
3-1 was certainly harsh as there had been little to separate the teams. United’s defence had dealt well with most of what Crookston had thrown at them. Rarely were they under any concentrated periods of pressure and, with Davy T and Kosar particularly effective in wide areas, United caused Crookston big problems on the counter attack. A great series of passing combinations up the right flank between Kosar and Gerry almost ended in the latter’s second goal of the day as his looping shot needed tipped over the crossbar. Mohamed Jemal replaced Chris Malone, the big Kuwaiti attacker scored on his debut last weekend and he could’ve scored again here within minutes of his arrival.
Kosar’s tenacious wing player had created space to run into but Mohamed delayed the shot too long and was snuffed out by desperate defending. A fourth goal was conceded from close range and with that Crookston assumed the game was done and dusted. United hadn't quite read the script though. Content they had nothing to lose and time left, they lured Crookston into advancing up the pitch and hit them with counter attacks at blistering speed. Kosar twice found himself in promising situations where a goal looked likely but he failed to find a decisive touch. Davy T scored his second goal in two games with a cracking finish from a tight angle and Bobby almost further reduced the deficit unleashing a fierce drive from 20yards that flashed wide after striding forward from defence as the clock ticked away. United deserve great credit for how they applied themselves after the sending off.
2-4 it finished to the Division 1 champions. Despite the score-line there was plenty positives for United to take. Feeling somewhat aggrieved at leaving empty handed having played an hour with ten men certainly provokes thought of what might have been had they finished with a full delegation on the pitch.
United: Fraser, Paul Georgie, Gerry, Kwaby, Bobby, Kevin (Davy T 65'), Chayna, Chris M (Mohamed J. 75'), Kosar, Harry, Mohamed Mna (Will 60')
Goals: Gerry (pen), Davy T
Red Card: Fraser