One goal enough for United to claim a dominant victory

PUBLISHED: 11:07 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:07 11 February 2020

Darren O'Brien of Hatfield United.

Darren O'Brien of Hatfield United.

Archant

Hatfield United finally got their first Herts County Senior League win of 2020 thanks to a 1–0 success over St Margaretsbury Reserves at Birchwood.

Darren O'Brien got the only goal to keep United in the top six of Division One but it came with a heavy price, Mike Alderman breaking his leg in only the second minute after a heavy fall following a challenge with the keeper.

The previous meeting between these sides had produced a pulsating 4-4 draw in January but this one somehow got to half-time goal-less.

Once the game restarted following Alderman's injury it was all United. Matt Noot forced the keeper into a fine save while Darren O'Brien and Curtis Warner both went close before Charlie Woodward's point-blank header was tipped over the bar by the overworked keeper.

The hosts started the second half with the same urgency as the first and Noot twice went close in the opening few minutes.

The first one some him thwarted by another good save before he was inches away from connecting with an O'Brien delivery across the face of goal.

Noot's personal battle with the keeper continued unrewarded after going through on goal and seeing his shot blocked but on 52 minutes United finally got the breakthrough they deserved.

Warner was fouled on the edge of the area and from the resulting free-kick O'Brien rifled the ball low through the wall and finally beyond the stopper.

The goal didn't stop Hatfield piling on the pressure as they looked to kill the game off.

Chris Gray headed just over and Dale Stewart saw a shot from 25 yards whistle just past the post before Warner's was tipped over the top.

Josh Francis, Woodward and then Noot again all went close before Warner got the final tick in the shot column, an effort that was once again saved.

And two late corners from the visitors were dealt with by Gray and Greg Mackintosh to ensure a clean sheet and three well-deserved points.

The man of the match award was shared between goalscorer O'Brien and Gray.

They sit sixth but just five points behind second-placed Aldenham with a game in hand.

Hatfield have another home game on Saturday when they face Bovingdon Reserves, the side directly above them in the table.

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