|L-R: Ryan Morgan, Irah Woolley, John McKinlay, Matt Neild, Donetsk local
Vladimir and Dale Haslam with Alex Ryanchyn and his team
A brave group of reds warmed up for Wednesday’s match in Donetsk in a rather different way than hogging the bar – instead taking to the pitch.
After a generous invite from Donetsk fan Alex Ryabchyn, five United fans travelled to a dome-shaped indoor arena on the outskirts of town to play a five-a-side game against a handy bunch of Shakhtar supporters.
Playing in front of the local news television cameras, the reds were redsaway.com editor Dale Haslam, Matt Neild, Ryan Morgan, John McKinlay and Irah Woollery and, for a group who had previously not played together, it went pretty well.
‘United’ went in at half time 3-1 down, and despite losing an early second-half goal, they soon hit back to make it 3-2 and, as legs began to tire, pegged it back to 5-6.
The hosts showed their class, however, and moved into a 10-7 lead as the full-time whistle neared.
Then, the referee shook things up: In time-honoured fashion, he called ‘next goal wins’ and tricky forward Morgan grabbed the key goal to give ‘United’ at least one victory on the long trip to a snowy Ukraine.
Afterwards, Morgan said: “Not many people can say they’ve scored the winner in an international game in Donetsk. It’s my moment of glory.”
Haslam said: “It was great for Alex to invite us and to show such brilliant hospitality during our trip and all the lads agreed that the five-a-side game was a brilliant way to spend the afternoon before the game.
“His lads are due to play the MUFC supporters’ team at the reverse fixture and we wish them a great stay when they come.”