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Steve Brown

With all the off field dramas being put to the side United rocked up to take on high flying Alphington on a Saturday afternoon with welcome returns after long lay-offs for Singh, and McLoughlin (maybe not so welcome).

United lined up with McCulloch in goal McLoughlin, Gough, Attwood and Whan in defence, Marcus, Stock, Shaw & Jenkins in midfield and Sims & Singh up front with the solitary Brown on the bench.

United almost made the perfect start when Sims dispossessed a defender in the first minute and set off for goal. As the keeper came off his line Sims chipped the ball over him and it seemed destined for the back of the net but unfortunately the ball came off the inside of the post and was cleared to safety.

This seemed to wake Alphington up and they started to spend more time in their forward third, however they were struggling to break down the resolute Utd defence although Whan did give away a free kick in a dangerous position by sliding in to a tackle but the opportunity was scorned.

Just as it seemed that United had weathered the storm a tame cross ball into the box was met by McLoughlin whose attempt at a long up field clearance went horribly wrong with the ball ballooning off his shin, spinning high in the air toward the goal and sneaking just under the bar in the postage stamp corner for his second own goal of the season and giving the lead to Alphington.

This unfortunate incident only spurred United on and from the next attack a Jenkins shot from the edge of the box was parried by the keeper and first to react was Singh who prodded the ball into the middle of the box and Sims was there to bang home the equalizer.

Alphington, suddenly realizing that they were in a game, upped the pace and pushed forward once more and were lucky to regain the lead when a dangerous cross was cleared by Attwood to McLoughlin who in trying to make up for his earlier error was dispossessed on the edge of the box and a good strike found the back of the net.

Worse was to come when Whan replicated his sliding tackle but this time inside the box with the referee rightly awarding a penalty. The well struck spot kick was brilliantly saved by a diving McCulloch and it looked like the danger was over for the half but another cross into the box was met on the volley and although McCulloch got his hands to the shot he couldn’t hold on and the ball squirmed over the line for a 3-1 lead to Alphington at half time.

A good robust discussion at half time on structures and keeping play simple saw United step out determined to make a better fist of the second half. To a great extent United managed to limit Alphington to control of the midfield but with Marcus going off injured it meant that there was no opportunity to bring on fresh legs or have a breather and as the half wore on United found themselves defending deeper and deeper.

A fantastic back to the walls performance with Shaw rock solid in front of the back four and McCulloch having some fine saves meant United were able to keep Alphington limited to only one more goal in the game with the final result being a 4-1 loss.

The manner in which this game was played (and reffed) is exactly what the Over 55s league is all about. Two teams playing hard but fair with the referee in total control and lots of banter between the teams rounded off with a beer or two afterwards – let’s make this the norm.

MMM Memorable Moment – Maurice Sims almost scoring directly from the opposition kick off
MMM Muppet Moment – the returning Stuart McLoughlin continues to excel in the manner that he scores own goals
BMW BoP Although conceding 4 goals – our elder statesman John McCulloch saved a penalty and had a few other top class saves


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