United 3-2 Third Lanark
Considering the amount of times United's Men's Saturday Team have played Third Lanark this season, you would think the two sides would be quite familiar with each other by now. A week ago United came out on top, winning 4-1, but this week no fewer than 8 changes were required as injuries / unavailability ravaged the squad looking to build on three points won. Third Lanark seemed to suffer similar problems, fielding very few familiar faces from a week ago.
Jake and Will were drafted and last season’s top scorer, Sean, returned despite not being fully fit. Cosar arrived at the eleventh hour and Chayna returned having served his two-match suspension picked up in this fixture a month ago. Despite such wholsesale changes, United started the game strongly and were ahead after only 6mins when Chris Malone’s corner was planted firmly into the bottom corner by Jake’s bullet header. They failed to capitalise though and were pegged back when hesitation in defence allowed an attacker to nip in and poke the ball past Fraser. Third Lanark took the lead after 25mins, punishing United cheaply giving the ball away in their own half. Two sloppy goals from United’s point of view.
A lack of focus was quickly addressed and United were soon back in the ascendency. Chayna’s freekick was held by the goalkeeper and Harry’s curving shot cannoned off the crossbar. Sean skewed Jake’s cut-back wide after good wing play on the right but it wouldn’t be long until parity was restored. Sean’s run in behind the defence saw him through on goal. He unselfishly squared the ball for Harry to hammer home from close range. 2-2 at half time. A slobberknocker looked on the cards!
Cosar replaced Sean at the re-start and the tenacious winger’s running ability added an extra dimension to United’s attack in the second half. United battered Third Lanark throughout the second period, pressing high up the pitch and recycling defensive work into fresh attacks. Chayna and Chris dominated midfield, working in tandem to keep wave after wave of United pressure aimed towards Third Lanark’s goal. Link up play between Cosar, Jake and Harry often found them exploiting good positions but a killer touch was missing. Kevin twice looked like reaching crosses into the box but was twice foiled after unkind ricochets. Will’s snapshot clipped the crossbar but United eventually re-took the lead after 65 mins. Chayna’s kaleidoscopic vision picked out Harry’s incisive run, splitting Third Lanark’s defence. The Ghanaian’s first touch was perfect and fantastic acceleration saw him leave two defenders in his wake. Opening his body as he advanced on the goalkeeper, he sent a composed finish angled inside the far post. His second of the day and 13th of the season. 3-2 United.
The chances kept coming as United looked to settle the tie. Cosar almost scored a magnificent solo goal after beating four opponents on the edge of the box. The crossbar was hit for a third time when Chayna’s freekick just didn’t quite dip enough, Harry was denied his hattrick after he rounded the goalkeeper but saw his shot scrambled off the goal-line. Abdul gave Kevin a well-earned rest as Third Lanark’s frustration boiled over into cynical fouls. Abdul's wonderfully ambitious attempt at an overhead kick (connecting with fresh air only) reminded everybody football could be fun. Cosar hammered a freekick destined for the top corner but the Third Lanark keeper made a great save.
United’s inability to score a decisive 4th goal almost cost them dearly when Fraser was required to make a smart save from a header 8 yards out with 5mins to go, but nobody could deny United were well worth their victory here as they comfortably saw out the time remaining. A second win in succession leapfrogs them above Inchinnan Valley, off the foot of the table. The result means they have the opportunity to put daylight between themselves and Inchinnan when the two sides meet on Wednesday night!
UNITED: Fraser, Gerry, Kwaby, Bobby, Will, Jake, Chayna, Chris M, Kevin (Abdul 77’), Harry, Sean (Cosar 45’)
Goals: Jake, Harry (x2)