The Reds lost this game narrowly but it could have been more had United gone for it more on the night. The visitors deservedly won the game as the Reds played a left back and a central midfielder up front, leaving their only striker on the bench. The team selection leaves an awful lot to be desired but with only the Reds younger players playing in the main it shouldn't surprise really.
David Raven was omitted from the squad late on in the build up to the game having been named in the original line up. Raven took his place on the bench though as Medjani and Whitbread played in the centre of defence. Medjani seems to take his place in the side purely for financial reasons as his play isn't always up to scratch.
United got the game underway at the Deva Stadium as the huge crowd continued to drift into the stadium. The game started as it continued in fairness - poorly. This was not a game for the football lover as neither side really got going. The first potential chance fell for the Reds after eight minutes. United had had the better of the opening minutes but John Welsh broke up a move and sped forward at the United back line but chose the wrong option as the penalty area loomed and the chance went.
John Welsh went close on ten minutes play after a neat one two with Darren Potter but his shot went over the bar. Chris Kirkland continued his return from injury in the Reds' goal and was out well on sixteen minutes play to grab the ball from Coopers feet and stop a shot going in on goal. The Reds were struggling to create much up field as the out of position pairing struggled to do much else other than get a touch of the ball. Chris Butler tried really hard up front all night but in an alien position did as much as he possibly could to be fair.
Kirkland was alert again on nineteen minutes as he reacted superbly well to get down at his near post as United fizzed in a free kick. The game went through a dull spell for a long period and only a Foy shot straight at Carrol on thirty minutes woke the crowd up. United looked the better side going forward but just couldn't quite create the clear opening they needed whilst the Reds looked happy to play for a 0-0 draw.
Carl Medjani blocked a goalbound shot from Kenny Cooper on forty minutes and then three minutes later Kirkland was alert enough to stop a Jones free kick from going in. Just short of the half time whistle Robbie Foy managed to get in behind the United line and attack the inside left position but his cross over in the box was easily cleared by the retreating defence.
The Reds made no changes at half time and thus set their stall out to draw 0-0 with no strikers coming on. United on the other hand altered their front line with Eddie Johnson replacing Cooper.
Four minutes into the half Stephen Vaughan was back well to clear off a ball played through for Bellion who was clear of the back line. From the resulting corner Chris Kirkland saved superbly well on the line from a Johnson header. United started to turn the screw on the game more in the second half. Nine minutes in and Kieron Richardson cruised past the Reds before crossing over from the left side. The ball went over Kirkland but also just went too high for Bellion to get much on the cross and the ball went out for a goal kick.
Three minutes later and Richardson should have done better when he found himself with a free header at the near post but he pushed it wide of the far post. United had a good chance on sixty five minutes when they won a corner. The corner was whipped in but Kirkland did well to save the second of two headers. Daniel Nardiello and Phil Pickens were introduced with just over twenty minutes left for United as they looked to turn possession and quality onto goals.
On seventy three minutes the Reds were really unlucky not to snatch an undeserved lead. Chris Butler sold Lynch all ends up to move into the area. His cross for Foley was just to far in front of the young Irishman but Darren Potter raced in at the far post to shoot back on goal but Carrol was out well to smother the shot out for a corner.
United took the lead on seventy five minutes play when Nardiello took the ball past a couple of poor challenges from Reds defenders to shoot low past Kirkland in front of the United fans. The goal seemed to wake a couple of Reds up a little to suddenly realising a nil nil draw wasn't going to happen. Chris Butler got himself booked a minute after the goal for a poor challenge.
The Reds finally brought their striker on with twelve minutes left but rather than pushing him up front they employed Jason Massie on the right side of midfield as a straight replacement for Andy Wright who went off. The move smacked of stupidity to be honest and never changed anything about the Reds who needed to score.
As time ran out Johnson saw himself booked for time wasting by throwing the ball up in the air after he was caught offside. In stoppage time Jones went close to scoring a second United goal but after evading Medjani and Kirkland he shot across goal and wide at the far post.
Overall the result was deserved if only for the sheer stupidity of the Reds' management to play non recognised strikers up front whilst having one sat on the bench and leaving the other squad member out altogether in Karl Noon who is an U17 striker. United were the better side on the night and when it mattered had a striker to finish a move off.
MotM : John Welsh - Welshie again played well despite having little else on the pitch. Michael Foley tried hard and played some good balls through and Chris Butler worked tirelessly hard all night for little reward.