Monday, October 31, 2011
They say that the mark of a great team is to be able to win despite not playing well, and while it would be stretching the truth to describe United as a great team just yet, they certainly fulfilled that characteristic at Mill Field this evening, with as ugly a single goal victory as they will manage in many a long season.
Lee Carey was not only the goalscoring hero, tucking away a seventy-third minute winner from a second half move of extremely rare quality, but he was also in the right place at the right time to preserve all three points, clearing a last minute Kieran Ogunkoya header off his own goalline, with keeper Lloyd Anderson well beaten.
That this was Aveley's only attempt on target all evening spoke volumes for the Essex side's current malaise, and was also curiously reminiscent of several of the U's own performances this term. And although not quite as tactically naive as Horsham on Saturday, the Millers looked as low on confidence, especially in front of goal, as United did before their weekend mauling of the Hornets.
Sticking with the same line-up and formation that had served them so well little more than forty-eight hours earlier, the U's initially found themselves on the back foot against an Aveley team featuring one time Hastings striker Ellis Remy and former Football League veteran Micah Hyde in the centre of midfield.
Sean Bonnett-Johnson drove an early shot into the side netting, but United soon found their form, and Jordan Woodley's raking crossfield ball was neatly volleyed home by Kenny Pogue, only for a marginal offside flag to cut short the visitors' celebrations. Pogue and Woodley both missed further decent opportunities inside the opening quarter of an hour, with Zac Attwood inches away from converting a Pogue cross, and with the home side employing a Horsham style high defensive line, a well timed through ball was all that United needed to find in order to spring the trap.
Sadly though, the longer the first half wore on, the more aimless those through balls became, and a bright start quickly gave way to a scrappy encounter, almost devoid of entertainment, and with virtually every pass going astray. The half time whistle could scarcely come soon enough, although Remy's looping header onto the roof of the net did at least cause pulses to rise momentarily around the thirty minute mark.
The interval gave way to something of a reversal in fortune, with the U's starting strongly, Jamie Crellin's close range effort bravely blocked by keeper Dave McCartney, who then almost presented Pogue with a gift by misjudging Woodley's long cross, only for Harrison to clear the danger.
Remy glanced another header wide from Bonnett-Johnson's inviting cross, and did likewise from two Joey May corners in rapid succession, but in all honesty, the game had goalless stalemate written all over it until United suddenly created something out of nothing, Woodley and Jack Dixon combining down the right and Attwood rolling a pass across the edge of the Aveley area, for Carey to burst into the box and sidestep a challenge, before steering a low shot to McCartney's right and into the bottom corner.
As the one moment of true quality throughout the contest, it was worthy of the points on its own, although it was hard to say that United had really done enough to deserve them, but when Carey denied Ogunkoya in the ninetieth minute, it was clear that the points would be on their way back to the Sussex coast, the U's securing back to back wins for only the second time since the opening week of the 2009/10 campaign.
Having now risen to the heady heights of fourteenth place in the league table, United lie one place and one point ahead of their next opponents, although Saturday's visit from Tooting & Mitcham will be a battle to earn a place in the fourth round of the League Cup, rather than for league points, perhaps an unhelpful distraction in light of the U's sudden resurgence.
|Aveley||(0) 0||-||1 (0)||Hastings United|
|Match facts||Efforts on target||Efforts off target||Free kicks conceded||Corners|
|Aveley (4-4-2)||Hastings United (4-3-3)|
|1 Dave McCartney||1 Lloyd Anderson|
|2 Ryan Andrews||2 Jack Dixon|
|3 Charlie Read||3 Ross Sutton|
|4 Spencer Harrison||4 Lee Carey|
|5 Harry Milton||5 Sean Ray|
|6 Lewis Warren||6 Josh Jirbandey (c)|
|7 Sherwin Stanley||7 Jordan Woodley|
|8 Micah Hyde (c)||8 Jamie Crellin|
|9 Danny Hockton||9 Kenny Pogue|
|10 Ellis Remy||10 Zac Attwood|
|11 Sean Bonnett-Johnson||11 Ryan Thomson|
|12 Anton Blackwood (for Bonnett-Johnson 74)||12 Ben Billings|
|14 Kieran Ogunkoya (for Hockton 57)||14 Aaron Parris|
|15 Tony Russell||15 Charlie Elgar|
|16 Donavan Wilson||16 Scott Ellis|
|17 Joey May (for Warren 51)||GK Matt Armstrong-Ford|
Referee: Constantine Hatzidakis
Assistants: Stuart Cheek & Freddie Collins