Having secured their first win of the new season on Tuesday night against Hadley, home advantage coupled with the visitors being reduced to ten men just thirty minutes seemingly presented United with the opportunity to extend the winning run. However, they failed to capitalize on newly-promoted Edgware Town’s frailties as the away side prevailed with a 0-2 victory, courtesy of goals from substitutes Abdul Mansaray and Adem Ali. An excellent result for them but a disappointing one for United as the pre-season optimism is somewhat dampened, but with a long, arduous campaign ahead there’s no cause of concern as the progress made in the past remains evident.
The home side began the match moderately well infact as Scott Batchelor fired over from the left hand side of the area. United maintained control of proceedings without looking particularly ominous until Kevin Owusu was released down the right flank before his low cross was turned over by a combination of Josh Sturniolo and the defender. Batchelor was involved in the attacking play once more when the teenager was played in behind the Edgware defence, only to see his effort rebound off the post after he had evaded goalkeeper Alfie Bonfield. Perhaps he was relieved to see the linesman raise his flag for offside as a rare goalscoring chance went astray.
A key moment in the game soon followed as an aggressive challenge by Jack Ward on Sturniolo saw referee Mario Stetakovic brandish his first card of the encounter and despite Edgware coach Fabio Valenti’s protests, he was shown red. The resulting free kick was curled deliciously onto the bar by Kane Farrell as United set about now exploiting the numerical superiority.
They almost did exactly minutes later when Owusu found Sturniolo who delayed his shot, cut inside and hit a tame effort straight at the keeper before the ball was scrambled clear. Last weekend’s FA Cup hero Sergio Urbano then tried his luck with a shot from range but he could only blaze over the bar as the score remained level going into the half time interval.
Head coach Cristian Colás made two changes at the break with the evidently battered and bruised Sturniolo departed alongside Owusu, allowing Antonio Mitri and Charlie Evans-Critchley to enter the fray. It failed to have the desired effect, however, as the visitors were able to negate the threat offered by their hosts with relative ease and seemed to relish the odds the being against them as the game wore on.
Javonne Molloy created space for himself before forcing a decent save out of United keeper Tom Wyant as Edgware moved into the ascendancy. Number fourteen Mansaray then came on for Harry Smart while United’s very own fourteen Evans-Critchley returned to the subs bench due to injury with Liam Sweeney replacing him.
Struggling for fluency and looking increasingly bereft of ideas United were ruthlessly hit on the break when Luke Durnin surged forward before finding Molloy whose cross was met by Mansaray at the back post. United’s response was reasonable with Mitri fizzing one over and Matt Cooper also having an effort fly over the bar.
Edgware continued to look dangerous on the break with their pace proving an invaluable weapon as Mansaray drove from inside his half to the area before the keeper dispossessed him. Ali then replaced Durnin as fatigue began to set in for the away side.
United created one of their better opportunities when a neat ball was threaded through by Turbano into Gareth Hunt whose shot was blocked but the midfielder had the composure to lay the ball into the path of Cooper, who curled his effort wide of the far post. Skipper Martin Russell then delivered a cross into Batchelor who squandered United’s biggest opening so far as he hammered his volley over from close range.
Substitute Ali threatened for the first time shortly after when he was clipped in behind but could only drive his shot straight at Wyant. He would not be denied much longer as in the eighty-seventh minute the points were wrapped up by The Wares. Ali maneuvered the ball from left to right before drilling expertly into the bottom, far corner. United pressed intensely but Edgware had the answer to any questions they posed and hung on to secure a first win of the league season and an impressive clean sheet too.
Attentions turn back to the FA Cup this weekend giving the boys a chance to redeem themselves following this fairly drab display. A red card can unite and inspire a team and United suffered the effects of that against a spirited Edgware side on Saturday, but they will still be left feeling frustrated by their inability to create in the game. It’s only the second match of a long season, however, and Sunday’s trip to Aylesbury United offers the first attempt at redemption as the cup dream resumes, KO 3pm.
Report by Leon Waite