United 0 (4) Curzon Ashton 0 (2) (FA Cup Round 1 Replay): Penalty Charge

Good News! United have found their scoring boots, putting the ball past the Curzon keeper four times on Tuesday night!

Bad News! They were all penalties, and the U’s barely came close in the 120 minutes of football before that.

Maybe that’s unfair, actually, as United did have a number of chances during the match but couldn’t find that finishing touch against opposition three leagues below us. Take nothing away from Curzon, they played well and on the night the casual observer wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference in class between the two teams. United made hard work of the game, with only a few players standing out as having any desire to get the ball forward. Lloyd Jones, partnering Greg Taylor in defence was one of those, and he came close with an early shot that narrowly missed. In the middle Ben Worman showed why he thinks he should be considered to partner Paul Digby in the starting eleven, Digby enduring an unusual off-day and showing signs of tiredness.

Up front we finally got to see Saikou Janneh, and almost immediately saw why Mark Bonner hasn’t given him a starting spot despite our woes in front of goal this season. His performance veering between looking like he’d never kicked a ball before, and looking like the reincarnation of Lionel Messi, it was mostly ineffectual, with him having to be talked through the game by James Brophy who covered well behind him. That said, it was Janneh who came closest to giving United the lead, testing the keeper on a couple of occasions with unexpected shots, but overall the jury is still out – he’s got a lot of work to do on his game before being able to walk into the XI, despite the undoubted raw talent he has.

Partnering Janneh up front was Joe Ironside, who like Digby had a game to forget, and such is his consistency for United there’s not much point in dwelling on it – he looked knackered and seems to be missing his usual sharpness. Is there a case for changing the formation a bit and giving him a strike partner? Possibly, but there’s also a case to be made for giving him a rest for a couple of games.

So, not a classic by any means – in fact you wouldn’t find many arguments to say that was one of the worst performances at the Abbey since Bonner took over, and from his post-game interview it sounds like he’d agree. The January transfer window can’t come soon enough for the U’s as we need some reinforcements in a number of areas across the pitch, if not to walk straight into the starting line-up at least to provide an option from the bench, which we don’t really have due to an unfortunate number of injuries.

Anyway, we move on to Accrington at the weekend, and with a winnable tie at home against Grimsby in the next round our FA Cup journey continues for another season.

Man of the Match: Erm, Brophy or Worman I guess. No-one else stood out really.

Soundtrack of the Match: Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring

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