BLUE SQUARE SOUTH: Hayes & Yeading United 1 Bishop's Stortford 0
Comparisons with Arsene Wenger's teams would in many cases be most welcomed and yet Garry Haylock must have been tearing his hair out for much of Saturday's game with Bishop's Stortford.
Like Arsenal, Hayes & Yeading United played some nice football to worry a disciplined Stortford defence but more often than not they seemed to seek the perfect scoring opportunity rather than make the most of what developed.
Aperfect example was when James Mulley, seconds after coming off the substitutes bench, was set free down the right, but instead of going for goal from an angle he squared the ball to Will Hendry to hopefully present him with a walk in. Hendry dribbled all around the area, dodging tackles admirably but as Stortford defenders buzzed around him like bees to honey he was crowded out before he got a shot away.
That summed up an afternoon which had so many positives for United, from the defence where Tom Cadmore read the game superbly to mop the few balls that by-passed Matt Ruby, who looks a fine acquisition. Ruby, 22, has the physique of a typical old-fashioned centre half but no 'if it moves, kick it.'mer-chant is he - think Jamie Jarvis without the recklessness. Neil Martin slotted in comfortably at left-back and Haylock may hope he does not impress so much that Exeter decide to keep him.
The return of Steve Perkins cannot come quickly enough because he would provide balance to a midfield that, packed with attacking intent, at times over-committed itself and would have been punished by more incisive opposition, while Hendry did a job up front but he is so much more comfortable when coming on to the ball where he can dis-play his full range of passing.
United always edged an intriguing battle, creating a few half chances before Hendry's instinctive reverse ball sent Josh Scott inside right back Matt Jones after 19 minutes.
He skipped one challenge but Nicky Eyre did well to get a hand to the ball as Scott tried to touch it past him and the 19th minute opportunity was gone.
Scott Fitzgerald, who still looks to be lacking some confidence, was denied by a superb sliding tackle from Paul
Goodacre before Hendry played another excellent ball round the corner to Esmond James, who escaped the clutches of Koko and delivered a great ball in but Scott sliced wide.
Scott then whipped in a cracking cross that was just too high for Hendry to leave United ahead on points but not on the board at half-time. They should have been behind soon after the restart but fortunately the ball fell to Danny Harris, who typified his afternoon by planting a free header woefully wide.
Eyre plucked an instant hit from Scott out of the top corner and the latter delivered a cracking through ball for Marwa but he could not quite catch up with it and after Mulley passed up his 73rd minute opportunity one sensed it was going to be one of those nearly days for United. Especially when Scott crossed low to the near post and Kieran Knight, having replaced Fitzgerald for the final 25 minutes, clipped the ball over the bar.
Hendry saw a shot deflected after Knight spun and had his effort blocked and in the 88th minute Steven Gregory and Knight sent Scott clear through the middle to surely break the deadlock.
He held off two defenders but Eyre just got a foot to his shot to increase the agony for home fans.
Then, three minutes into stoppage time, Marwa, Staforde Palmer and Scott all tried to weave some magic in the Stortford box but none could pull a rabbit out of the hat until the ball was spread right to Mulley. He returned it, Knight spun, swung his left foot and disappeared among his team-mates after the ball drifted into the top corner.
Finally United had an end product and a goal to go with a second successive clean sheet.
One-nil to United. Now where have I heard a chant similar to that before?