United claimed a 3-0 victory over the Isle of Man National side at the Ballacloan Stadium in Ramsey on Wednesday night, watched by the tournament's biggest crowd so far of 868 thanks to a first-half Craig Farrell strike and a late brace from trialist Karl Hawley,
The Cumbrians will now face Wrexham at on Friday afternoon at the National Sports Centre in
United started the game brightly, their first chance coming on just four minutes as Farrell’s lay-off fell to Rundle who forced a save with his legs from Islanders keeper, and man of the match, Mark Blair.
Prolonged Blues possession in the first ten minutes led to half-chances for Farrell and
In the 23rd minute Johnny Myers cleared a close-range Farrell header off the line before two minutes later United deservedly took the lead.
As the Islanders tried to push-up towards the half-way line, their right-back Julian Ringham was sleeping and playing the Blues forwards ten yards onside. A long ball from Will McDonagh was hit over the top for Farrell to run onto and crisply finish beyond Blair from 12 yards.
United nearly doubled their lead barely a minute later as Henderson’s effort was saved by Blair only to fall to Farrell whose shot on the turn was cleared off the line by Manx left-back Danny Lace.
The Cumbrians had their best spell of the game in the final quarter of the first-half, a Rundle header, a Brendan McGill drive, a Farrell attempted lob and a low rasper from the outstanding skipper Peter Murphy all keeping Blair hard at work in the Islanders goal.
The first quarter of an hour after the re-start saw both sides working hard to close each other down in the middle of the park. United’s only half-chances coming from a Rundle shot well handled by Blair and a Murphy shot from the edge of the box drilled just over.
United missed a glorious chance to go two up in the 62nd minute as Farrell failed to convert a harsh looking penalty decision.
Chasing McGill’s through ball
Farrell stepped up to smash the spot-kick straight down the middle, only to see Blair brilliantly reach back and punch away after initially diving to his right, Farrell was also unable to slot home the rebound as Blair pounced on his weakly hit effort.
The Manx men were given heart by the let-off and had a spell of possession soon after but struggled to penetrate a Blues defence expertly marshalled by a solid performance from Kevin Gray.
On 75 minutes Farrell was again at the heart of the action, blazing a volley over from the edge of the box after a poor headed clearance by Myers. Three minutes later substitute Hawley wasted a gilt-edged chance, dragging a right-foot shot wide from eight yards out after good work on the right by the tricky
United were nearly made to pay for Farrell’s penalty miss in the 80th minute as Lee Andrews fouled Islanders Nick Hurt in an aerial challenge on the edge of the Cumbrians box.
From the resultant free-kick Chris Bass curled a 20-yard right-footer onto United keeper Peter Keen’s left-hand post, the rebound falling to Murphy who hammered the ball away for a Manx throw.
Two minutes later United finally doubled their lead through Hawley.
United’s already threadbare squad, with physio Neil Dalton again amongst the substitutes, was subjected to another injury blow four minutes from time as McDonagh limped off with a jarred ankle and was replaced by veteran striker Andy Preece.
The Cumbrians made it 3-0 in the 88th minute as the Islanders young part-timers began to tire. A long ball from left-back Tom Cowan was headed on by Preece to the edge of the box where Hawley was waiting to calmly lob the ball over Blair with the outside of his right-foot.
United player-manager Paul Simpson, watching from the bench, must have been impressed with trialist Hawley who scored with two chances out of three in the 15 minutes he was on the pitch. Simpson must wait and see whether finances decree that he can offer Hawley a contract if he wants to keep him.
It was a vastly improved performance from a
Mark Blair, Julian Ringham, Daniel Lace (Mark Kelly 86), Johnny Myers, Robert Cottier, Lee Dixon (Chris Feeney 83), Kevin Megson (Tony Corlett 60), Nick Hurt, Callum Morrissey (Gavin Faragher 63), Johnny Cowley (Peter Langridge 63), Chris Bass.
Unused subs : Glen Hamilton, Andy Perry + Daniel Wade.
Peter Keen 6, Will McDonagh 8 (Andy Preece 86, 6), Tom Cowan 7, Peter Murphy 8*, Lee Andrews 7, Kevin Gray 7, Brendan McGill 7, Chris Billy 7, Kevin Henderson 7 (Karl Hawley 75, 8), Craig Farrell 7, Adam Rundle 6 (Carlos Roca 59, 6).
Unused sub : Neil Dalton.
Referee : Peter Walton.
Tim Graham (thetashkentterror).