Kenny Pogue’s first hat-trick for the club gave United an excellent 4-1 victory at home to Guernsey in Ryman Football League Division One South, ending a run of five straight defeats in all competitions.
Di Paola named three new signings in the squad for his first game in charge. Veteran defender Marc Pullan went straight into the starting line-up, with Kevin Keehan and Mitchell Hand featuring as a second half substitutes.
Pullan was involved in the opening goal after 10 minutes, getting to his head to Taser Hassan’s right wing corner before Sean Ray hooked the ball across goal for Pogue to nod home.
United’s lead, however, lasted just five minutes. Ronnie Dolan was unable to prevent Marc McGrath getting his cross away from near the byeline on the away right and Dominic Heaume found the corner of the net with a well-executed volley.
Guernsey enjoyed the bulk of the play during the remainder of the first half, but were largely restricted to shots from outside the box. One such effort from McGrath was well-held by home goalkeeper Josh Pelling.
United also played some good football of their own at times and Ade Olorunda had a terrific header ruled out for a foul. Hassan’s 25-yard shot was just about held by Guernsey stopper Chris Tardif and a Sam Adams effort from the edge of the D deflected wide.
Pelling parried a Luke Winch shot in the first two minutes of the second half and Nigel Hutton’s follow-up was blocked by Pullan. Winch then flashed a long range attempt just over.
United went back in front in the 53rd minute. Sam Cruttwell’s cross from the left dropped to Olorunda, who did well to engineer space for a low shot into the bottom corner.
The hosts seemed content to get bodies behind the ball and play on the counter-attack thereafter, although Guernsey missed a great chance to restore parity for a second time when Heaume pulled his shot wide from an inviting position inside the box.
Guernsey went close again approaching the midway point in the half. Pullan made a brilliant block to deny substitute Tom Creed and Pelling pulled off an equally fine save to tip over the rebound from McGrath.
Shots from outside the box by Ryan-Zico Black and McGrath were saved by Pelling, and Heaume blazed over, but all the goalmouth action in the final 10 minutes came at the other end as United took advantage of the space afforded to them by Guernsey pushing forward.
Pogue couldn’t direct a lunging volley on target after a neat interchange down the right between substitute Bright Temba and Adams. Moments later, Hand’s shot following another Temba centre deflected just wide.
United grabbed a killer third goal in the 89th minute. Pogue nodded a ball over the top into the path of captain Adams, who despite going through with just Tardif to beat, unselfishly squared for Pogue to tap into the empty net.
Pogue completed his treble in the third minute of added time. Having been released by a quick throw-in down the left, Pogue beat Tardif with a low shot from a tight angle.
It was United’s first victory over Guernsey following a hat-trick of defeats to the Green Lions last season and only their second home win of the current campaign.
United: Pelling, Rose, Cruttwell, T. Olorunda, Ray, Pullan, Dolan (Keehan 68), Adams, A. Olorunda (Temba 73), Hassan (Hand 82), Pogue. Subs not used: King, Vickers. Attendance: 435.