The U’s eventually held on for a 3-2 win against fourth-placed Ramsgate in Ryman Football League Division One South having been 2-0 up and seemingly cruising at half time.
On another grey and blustery afternoon, United were as close to full strength as they have been for some time. Zac Attwood made his first start since returning from injury for a United side which lined-up in a 3-5-2 formation.
United took less than five minutes to draw first blood and a cracking goal it was too. Sam Adams delivered a diagonal ball from the right and as it bounced up, Sam Cole unleashed a tremendous volley from the left-hand side of the box which flew into the far corner of the net via the inside of the post.
The game was keenly-contested and there was a mass confrontation of players from both sides at one stage before United doubled their lead in the 27th minute. Sam Cruttwell drove into the box, and although his shot was saved and Simon Johnson’s follow-up was blocked, Attwood found the roof of the net.
Looking comfortable in defence and threatening in attack, United appeared in complete command at the break against a Ramsgate side which at this stage hadn’t mustered a shot at goal.
United have begun the second half slowly on a few occasions at home this season, though, and this was another such instance. Ramsgate started to get a foothold in the match and pulled one back on the hour. Ian Pulman got on the end of a long ball over the home defence and his first touch took him past United goalkeeper Josh Pelling before tapping home.
Suddenly it was very much game on and United were starting to lose their way. Ramsgate came close to an equaliser when Luke Girt was just off target with a near post volley from Tom Loynes’ low cross.
In contrast to the first half, United were struggling to retain possession, although Attwood went close with a 20-yard shot which took a slight deflection and Cruttwell had a weak effort easily saved when invitingly placed.
United restored their two-goal cushion in the 88th minute. Cole skipped past Jake Mackenzie on the home left and delivered a low cross which Joseph Kane failed to cut out and Jack Harris slotted home just three minutes after coming off the bench.
A competitive Ramsgate side wasn’t finished, however. Joe Taylor made it 3-2 in the 90th minute by bringing a long ball under control and turning Ollie Rowe before firing across Pelling into the far bottom corner.
United then had to endure nearly seven nervy minutes of added time. Right at the end Ramsgate goalkeeper Luke Watkins came up for and got his head to a deep free kick from the right, and United had to block the ensuing shot from one of Watkins’ team-mates before they could celebrate their third consecutive home league victory.
United: Pelling, Crabb, Cole, Rowe, Ray, Walder (Cumming-Bart 90), Medlock (Richardson-Brown 77), Adams, Attwood (Harris 85), Johnson, Cruttwell. Subs not used: Hollobone, Temba. Attendance: 260.
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