We travelled last night for another pre-season friendly, this time Billinghay being our hosts. On a cold, damp night we turned up with a strong squad, all pushing for places as the season draws near.
As the game got underway, the game was pretty evenly matched, with Billinghay having the better of the chances but not really threatening the goal. On 10 minutes, a wicked deflection took the ball away from stand in goalkeeper Elliot Clark giving him no chance at all. We were 1-0 down but determined to put this behind us. Almost straight away, we were on the offensive with multiple chances either being saved or going wide. Finally, late in the half, an equaliser came through last season's top scorer Ryan O'Loughlin. A good finish from a loose ball. This spurred us on and within five minutes we were ahead. A fantastic, flighted ball from Dom Lyons was met by John Courtney and slid past the keeper to put us 2-1 up going into half time. Oddly, it was at half time that the game took a strange turn. Goalkeeper, Elliot Clark asked the official about the penalty claim for what appeared to be a clear hand ball. No voices were raised or language used but the refereee decided Elliot would play no further part. Not sent off, just not included any further! A quick change for the second half saw goalscorer Ryan O'Loughlin take the gloves!
In the second half we picked up where we left off and pressured from the restart. Within a few minutes we were further ahead following a neat through ball from Matt Charles leading to a clever finish from the impressive Dom Lyons. 3-1 United. Shortly after, the favour was returned as Matt Charles chased a long through ball to slot it past the advancing keeper for his first of the night to make it 4-1. From here United really turned the screw with Charles, O'Loughlin, Bradley, Grainger, Lyons and Courtney all causing real problems for the home defence. The pressure paid off again when a rasping shot from Matt Charles flew past the home keeper leaving him no chance making it 5-1. A few minutes later, having swapped goalkeeping gloves for an outfield shirt, Ryan O'Loughlin scored his second and United's 6th after a mazy run through the defence. The scoring was completed less than five minutes later when Matt Charles completed his hat trick following a run through the defence to make it 7-1 United. Despite the scoreline, United continued to press for more. As the final whistle approached a curled shot from Keaton Grainger flew just past the post.
All in all, a very good night for a strong United side. That takes us to three wins out of three in pre-season friendlies.