Promising start to new era
United withstand early flack to return with a well deserved point from visit to Heatherns.
By Chris Burnett
Woodley started their very first campaign at Step 5 with a mid-week trip to Flackwell Heath; a side that has finished first, third and third in the Hellenic Premier over the last three seasons.
United gave competitive debuts to centre back Michael Porter and midfielder Ashley Ledger whilst Nathanael Robinson started on the wing after rejoining the club.
The hosts just about shaded the opening twenty minutes; Ledger was called into early action clearing from practically his own goal line after a right wing free kick was turned goalwards. This was sandwiched between two routine saves by Woodley keeper Alex Reed.
United weathered the early pressure with Porter looking very assured playing alongside captain Idris Kamara.
The visitors first real chance came courtesy of a counter attack ten minutes before the break. Danny Horscroft picked out Robinson with a fantastic ball. Cutting in from the left, Robinson forced David Lyons in the home goal to turn behind a shot from twenty yards.
Flackwell thought they had opened the scoring five minutes before the break when they broke through the Woodley defence; lobbing Reed, the ball hit the bar and was turned home from close range but the goal was ruled out for offside.
The final chance of a half devoid of many clear-cut chances saw Flackwell full back Ryan Tackley head well wide.
HT Flackwell Heath 0-0 Woodley United
United started the second period with real intent. Sixty seconds in, Robinson rounded Lyons only to see his shot from the left headed off the line.
More Woodley pressure followed; Horscroft found Charlie Oakley with another great pass; bringing the ball down, United's top scorer last season was crowded out by red shirts before he could get a shot away.
At the other end, Usman Lalustani dragged a shot wide from twenty-five yards as Flackwell struggled to get anything going.
Oakley and Horscroft once again combined as Woodley started to dominate. The former saw his shot blocked, with the ball falling invitingly to Robinson who saw his shot go agonisingly wide.
Encouragingly, Robinson and Oakley seem to have already developed a good understanding. The latter picked out the former with a cross from the right, Robinson had time to take a touch and fire a shot at goal that was blocked by Logan Kwiecien.
The nearest Flackwell got to scoring since the restart was when a fierce shot by Nathan Minhas was gathered by Reed at the second attempt.
Half way through the half United made their first change when Carl Prestidge replaced Robinson.
Woodley made a further change with ten minutes to go, Ledger making way for new signing Owen Davies.
With the game in its final stages and the hosts pushing men forward, United had a golden chance to pick up all three points on the break when man of the match Porter fed Prestidge down the left; squaring to Oakley the Woodley striker missed to the left with just Lyons to beat.
Woodley made their final change late on when pacey winger Marvin Hinds came on for Josh Drew.
The two new additions combined in added time when a counter attack led by Hinds ended with him finding Davies who had his shot blocked.
Seconds later the ref blew for full time signalling a great result and performance from United. History continues for the club on Saturday when they make their debut in the FA Cup hosting Tuffley Rovers.
FT Flackwell Heath 0-0 Woodley United