Forget the infamous transfer deadline day. In the world of Non-League football it is the Friday Noon deadline that looms large for clubs in the FA Cup and on this occasion United were thankful for a last minute email from Spain to confirm the International Clearance of former Barcelona ‘B’ player, Sergio Lopez. With just 38 minutes to spare to that deadline, the Spaniard’s dream of playing in the English FA Cup came true and to cap it all he scored a peach of a winner for his new club that saw the Second Meadow side progress to the next round.
On a blisteringly hot afternoon, United made their first ever trip to UCL Side Newport Pagnell Town who presented probably the sternest test of all of the South Midlands League sides’ opposition, having finished 3rd in the Premier Division table last term. But it was an excellent all round team performance that saw Cristian Colás’ team boss the first half proceedings and the contrast in styles was stark. United played possession football, free flowing and controlled. The Swans had prolific strikers Darren Lynch and Dom Lawless as their target men so it came as no surprise that the counter attack, long ball was their game plan. Fortunately, United’s defensive trio of Nyasha Sagwete, Martin Russell and Lee Bilcock have enough quality and experience under their belts and were able to snuff out most of the first half advances leaving young ‘keeper, Tom Wyant, with only a handful of half chances to deal with.
At the other end United’s best chance came in the 26th minute. Kane Farrell’s corner was punched clear by the Swan’s Mark Osborn but the rebound was sent smashing against the crossbar by Nick Elliot followed by a fingertip save from Osborn to deny debutant Abraham Eze. Jake O’Neill was next to see Osborn palm away his low drive and Bilcock sent a header from Elliot’s free kick just wide of the upright.
United couldn’t have wished for a better start to the second period. Substitute Scott Batchelor chased down a seemingly lost cause in the 52nd minute but the youngster managed to block Osborn’s clearance and with the keeper caught off his line, Lopez sent a sublime chipped shot over the 6 foot 5” keeper and in to the net for 0-1.
United continued to press forward but as the clock ticked down were slowly pulled back as the Swans pushed players forward in search of an equaliser. In the final ten minutes the home side had a penalty shout turned down after a free kick thundered against the United wall hitting a United arm and in the 88th minute Wyant was at full stretch to turn over a speculative strike from Lawless. But despite the last minute flurries, United stood firm and dug deep for victory that sees them on their travels once more with a trip to Southern League side Aylesbury United FC.