Hat-Rick Hero Valencia

Steve Brown

Round 13 with another chilly Monday evening early kick-off as the curtain raiser for the top of the table clash. United were looking to close the gap on Sandringham who are one place higher in the league. The United line up was announced in the warmth of the changing room as McCulloch, Machin, McLoughlin, Gough, Gulec, Ewinger, Boyte, Attwood, Whan, Valencia, Brown and the Bench –  Coard, Hassan, Kearney, M Jenkins. However, understudy Coard was called in to replace no-show Gulec just before kick-off.

A very open game ensued with both teams sensing the opportunity of grabbing the 3 points but the early running was mostly coming from United as Boyte and Attwood took control in the middle of the park. Coming out of defence, Machin played onto Gough who found Brown all on his own in the middle he then released to Valencia who had stolen a march on his defender, raced in on goal and made no mistake to open the scoring after 10 minutes.

The belief was returning to United after a lean spell in front of goal and more chances came – the best when Brown nut-megged his defender and bore in on goal only to see his shot go straight to the keeper. Then the wind was knocked out of United’s sails when some hesitation in defence allowed a Sandringham striker some space on the right and he squeezed a shot past McCulloch to level the scores.

This spurred United back into some forward action and another through ball from Brown to Valencia saw him clear on goal again and although his shot lacked power, there was just enough to see it over the line to restore United’s lead. United attempted to extend their lead with Hassan coming on for Brown, Jenkins for Attwood and Kearney for Ewinger and the game seemed to be well within United’s control when disaster struck for a second time with McLoughlin’s mistimed attempt to find row Z landing at a Sandringham player’s feet leaving him with the simplest of toe pokes under the keeper to make it all square again.

So, half time came with the scores locked at 2-2 and the feeling in the United camp that it was an opportunity lost not to be ahead in the game. However, the attitude was positive and the team took to the field with a determination to fight for the right result.

The game really opened up in the second half with both teams looking to play attacking football which meant plenty of action at both ends of the pitch with both keepers seeing a lot of the ball. Both teams had a succession of corners with Sandringham looking the more dangerous although Jenkins nearly forced an own goal when his effort was flicked backwards toward the near post where the keeper held on firmly.

Valencia had another fine run on the right where he cut back from the bye-line to Brown whose shot forced the keeper to fumble and the ball bobbled along the goal line before he was able to regather.

It looked like the game was going to end in stalemate unless something special could be done to break the deadlock and Valencia duly delivered. He latched on to a loose ball just outside the area and took a wild swing which resulted in the ball heading skywards in the general direction of the change rooms. Somehow, on reaching its peak trajectory the ball then just plummeted from the sky and dropped over the bemused keeper and into the goal to make it 3-2.

This shock should have killed of Sandringham but to their credit they continued to push forward looking for a third equaliser but some solid work at the back kept them at bay and United held their nerve to run out winners and sneak a very handy 3 points.

MMM Muppet Moment – Helmut Ewinger in his first game back from injury being cynically taken out from behind, on the sideline…………………………… by the esky.

Thankfully, no damage was done to the esky !!!

MMM Memorable Moment – The angle of descent of the looping shot which produced the winning goal – it was almost vertical.
BMW BoP  Ricky Valencia – He remembered to bring his correct shooting boots this week and was rewarded with a well-deserved hat-trick.

Video highlights can be viewed by clicking on the word “VIDEO“. Surprisingly this report holds a remarkable similarity to that captured on video!!

Well done Brownie …

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