FC United of Manchester FC United of Manchester FC United of Manchester

FC United of ManchesterSmaller TextLarger Text

Match Report

   

7.45pm Monday 27th February 2006

Moore & Co Construction Solicitors sponsored North West Counties Football League Division 2

Crown Ground, Livingston Road, Accrington, BB5 5BX


Great Harwood Town

1 - 1

FC United of Manchester

Cliff 76 Patterson 12 (pen)

Attendance: 1,028

Great Harwood Town 1

Cliff 76

FC United of Manchester 1

Patterson 12 (pen)

Attendance: 1,028
Great Harwood Town
1. Bobby Harris
2. Lester Peters
3. Ed O’Neill
4. Keiran Fletcher
5. Ben Haworth
6. Neville Nelson
7. Vasillis Theophanous
8. Ryan Fisher (capt)
9. John Eastham
10. Yaqoob Khan
11. Dennis Hill

Subs:
14. Danny Holroyd
15. Gordon Watson
16. Stuart Cliff (for 10, HT)

FC United of Manchester
1 Barrie George
2 Robert Nugent
3 Tony Cullen
4 Chris Simms
5 David Chadwick (capt) 
6 Billy McCartney
7 Joshua Howard
8 William Ahern
9 Adie Orr 
10 Steve Torpey
11 Rory Patterson

Subs.
12 Dave Brown (for 4)
15 Leon Mike (for 9)



Match Report

On an absolutely foul Monday night a hearty 1,000 FC United supporters trekked to East Lancashire to see the rearranged fixture against Great Harwood Town. The footballing Gods really have conspired against Great Harwood in recent times; their clubhouse and changing rooms were destroyed as the adjoining night club burnt to the ground. In the same fire the electrical switchgear for the floodlights was also destroyed. The club arranged a ground share with Accrington Stanley for this season but they then saw the potentially money-spinning match against United postponed an hour before kick-off one month ago due to a partially frozen pitch. The powers that be in the league deemed that the match should be rescheduled for this Monday evening and then the weather did it’s utmost to deter those that might otherwise have been inclined to find their way to the Interlink Express Stadium from travelling.



On balance, just more than 1,000 in attendance is not a bad number bearing in mind that the public transport links between Manchester and Accrington are near non-existent for an evening kick off. Hopefully the monies deposited by the United support via the turnstiles and programme sales will go some way to assuring Harwood’s short term future although it will not, by all accounts, provide any relief with regards to the rebuilding of the facilities at their own ground, the Showground.



Both sides had just over 48 hours to recuperate after their respective endeavours at the weekend. Great Harwood Town had gone to Winsford and comfortably won 2-0 while United were putting the sword to Holker Old Boys. Margy made just 2 changes from the Saturday starting eleven with Gareth Ormes being replaced by Tony Cullen at left-back and Phil Power dropping out as Adie Orr returned to partner Patterson up front.



The United side lined up wearing a new colour combination, the mostly white away shirt and white socks matched with the home white shorts. The visitors kicked off attacking the goal at the Coppice Terrace end of the ground. The gusting and swirling wind was at United’s backs in the first period. The pitch, despite copious amounts of rainfall in the previous day or two, was in good condition. There were a couple of areas through the centre of the pitch where water was threatening to pool but the pitch was clearly in a playable condition.



In the early stages United pressed forward and kept the Great Harwood side pushed back. Several full-blooded challenges went in during those early stages with Rory Patterson seemingly being targeted as firstly the Cypriot under-21 international Theophanous and then Haworth brought the Irishman down with lusty challenges. Those early challenges set the tone for a very physical encounter that always seemed near to boiling over but never did. Somehow things never really got out of hand but this was, in my opinion, largely despite the match officials rather than because of them.




I have been pleasantly surprised about many aspects of this first season in the NWCL, the general standard of play has been better than I expected. The players, with few exceptions, play the game in a good competitive spirit which in turn makes life easier for the referees. I pity the top level referees who have to deal with players doing their utmost to cheat, con or otherwise gain an unfair advantage at every turn. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the sinner and the sinned against even with the benefit of multiple camera angles and slow-motion replays so it is no wonder that the top refs are seen to make mistakes. I had been concerned that the standard of refereeing at this (relatively lowly) level in the non-league pyramid might be poor. On the contrary, I have been impressed by almost all of the referees that I’ve seen this season. They generally let the players get on with the game and seem happy to ‘take a back seat’ unless things start to go awry. Unfortunately, I feel that the referee in this fixture confirmed my preseason fears although I have to believe that we just got him on a bad night. From the earliest stages he appeared to me to display an uncanny knack of awarding free-kicks in favour of the wrong team. Both sets of players were growing more and more bewildered as more and more seemingly arbitrary decisions were made. No-one accusation could be made of bias either because he probably gave just as many poor decisions against Great Harwood as he did against United.



Back to the game, United took the lead after 12 minutes through a Rory Patterson penalty kick. The award followed a bit of a scramble in the Town area after a quick throw-in was taken on the United left flank. The ball was fired in, probably by Torpey. Harris in the home goal did well to push the ball away but Josh Howard followed in at the far post and looked a certainty to score, again Harris did well as he smothered the attempt from Josh at close range but during the act of following up it seems that Howard had been pulled back by a covering defender. The referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot and Rory made no mistake as he sent Harris the wrong way to register his 14th goal of the season. 0-1.



The home side threatened an equaliser within a few minutes as freekick on the Harwood left was headed out by United’s defence. Lester Peters returned the ball from the edge of the area back goalwards and saw the effort thud against the foot of the right-hand post with Barrie George seemingly unsighted.



The first 2 cautions of the evening were soon dished out as Adie Orr was late on Harris as he tried to close down the goalkeeper. Moments later and Ed O’Neill, the Great Harwood number 3, also saw yellow, predictably for a foul on Patterson on the United right. Torpey took the resulting freekick which culminated in another good stop by Harris at the foot of his right-hand post. Again Harwood responded by creating an opening of their own as a goal-kick was not efficiently dealt with by the United backline leaving John Eastham with a brief sight of goal. The Town number 9 dragged his shot wide of goal from the right side.



On the half-hour Torpey sent a corner kick into the danger area that was headed out to Rob Nugent. United’s right-back couldn’t break through but he ball seemed to fall well for Orr but he lifted his shot over the bar from a very promising position. Patterson saw a decent shot well caught by Harris just before Kieran Fletcher saw yellow for a crude challenge on Will Ahern that left the United youngster looking slightly dazed for a minute or two.



With the half drawing to a close Adie Orr fired a snapshot with his left foot from the edge of the area that saw Harris scrambling across goal but the ball stayed marginally on the wrong side of the post, from a United point of view. At the other end, Great Harwood looked to take advantage of a freekick award near the United area. The freekick was spotted just a few yards from the 18 yard line left of centre and was taken as United were still forming their defensive wall. Fortunately Chris Simms was tuned into the danger and rose to get a partial block on the effort which then looped up comfortably for George to gather.




The final action of the half, in stoppage time, saw Harwood forward Yaqoob Khan injured in a collision with Barrie George as a through ball was threaded for the Town number 10 to chase. George arrived just before Khan and their momentum resulted in an inevitable collision. Khan walked to the changing rooms at half-time but did not retake his place on the pitch as the second half commenced. The unfortunate Khan was replaced by, ex Kendal Town player and new Great Harwood Town signing, Stuart Cliff.



The home side had the benefit of the wind at their backs in the second period and immediately looked a more potent outfit. On 49 minutes Barrie George was called upon to make an exceptional save from the GHT captain Ryan Fisher. Fisher let loose with a wind-assisted 25 yarder that Barrie did very, very well to keep out. United’s keeper very nearly blotted his copybook soon after as he came out as if to catch a corner kick from the Harwood left. Unfortunately George misjudged the flight of the ball and failed to make any contact. The resultant scramble saw 3 separate goal attempts by Great Harwood players but none of them could make even one of them count. Eastham then saw a freekick from 25 yards well tipped over by George as pressure seemed to be building on the United goal.



On 65 minutes Orr appeared to be brought down near to the penalty spot but the referee was not inclined to give a second penalty kick to the visitors. United then ought to have secured the spoils as a glorious chance was created and then spurned. Torpey did excellently to control a ball in before taking the ball beyond the left back with ease. The pullback was inviting and Patterson seemed to have the goal at his mercy but somehow the scorer from 12 yards managed to miss from half the distance as his shot looped up over the bar.



Two minutes later and Patterson created some room for himself but his final effort, again with the goal seemingly gaping, was weakly toe-poked toward goal allowing the defence ample time to intervene. The resulting corner kick was worked short between Howard and Torpey, the latter crossed to the far post where Adie Orr rose but failed to direct his header on target, instead screwing wide of the far-post. Orr again had an opportunity on 72 minutes as a great tackle from Rob Nugent broke for Josh Howard who switched play to the left flank where Orr carried the ball in on goal. The final shot was from a narrow angle and was easily saved by Harris.



United would soon rue the series of missed chances as Great Harwood resumed their wind-assisted assault on United’s goal. Dennis Hill took an in swinging freekick from the Harwood right flank that was well defended but at the cost of a corner kick from the same right flank. Again Hill teased in an in swinging ball but this time it was met by Cliff whose near-post header looped up over the defender on the line and into the net. 1-1.



United still had time to create one more presentable opportunity before the final whistle but Rob Nugent wasn’t able to keep his half-volley on target after a Torpey freekick fell to him beyond the farpost. In an increasingly fractious final 5 minutes Chadwick picked up a yellow card after Stuart Cliff was fouled and then Peters completed the bookings for yet another poor challenge on Patterson.




The final score of 1-1 might just about have been the right result. United will, however, look back on several chances to have doubled the lead that went begging. It seems to be a recurring theme lately that a lot of chances are generally being created but too few are being converted. Hopefully the likely return of Simon Carden to the fray in the next few weeks will see him back amongst the scorers which might take some of the load away from the front men who aren’t quite firing on all cylinders just now. By the end of the season this will probably be another match that will be looked back upon as a good point won rather than 2 points dropped because Great Harwood Town are finding good form and might well yet push themselves into the promotion mix.



As for man of the match candidates I found this match an unusually difficult one from which to choose my MoM. Ultimately I’ve gone for Rob Nugent, defensively the team did well to restrict GHT to few clear cut chances particularly in the second period. Rob is doing a great job in a position that is not his favourite and he was his usual solid self on Monday night. In addition to his normal reliable defensive performance I thought he offered more of an attacking threat than has been seen lately from rightback so that edged the decision in his favour. Barrie George was also in contention although a couple of mishaps, in admittedly very difficult goalkeeping conditions, on crosses counted against him for me.



(With thanks to FC United supporter Wayne Clark for supplying this match report. Match reports reflect the opionions of the contributor only and do not reflect the views of the board of FC United of Manchester)

Match Report

On an absolutely foul Monday night a hearty 1,000 FC United supporters trekked to East Lancashire to see the rearranged fixture against Great Harwood Town. The footballing Gods really have conspired against Great Harwood in recent times; their clubhouse and changing rooms were destroyed as the adjoining night club burnt to the ground. In the same fire the electrical switchgear for the floodlights was also destroyed. The club arranged a ground share with Accrington Stanley for this season but they then saw the potentially money-spinning match against United postponed an hour before kick-off one month ago due to a partially frozen pitch. The powers that be in the league deemed that the match should be rescheduled for this Monday evening and then the weather did it’s utmost to deter those that might otherwise have been inclined to find their way to the Interlink Express Stadium from travelling.



On balance, just more than 1,000 in attendance is not a bad number bearing in mind that the public transport links between Manchester and Accrington are near non-existent for an evening kick off. Hopefully the monies deposited by the United support via the turnstiles and programme sales will go some way to assuring Harwood’s short term future although it will not, by all accounts, provide any relief with regards to the rebuilding of the facilities at their own ground, the Showground.



Both sides had just over 48 hours to recuperate after their respective endeavours at the weekend. Great Harwood Town had gone to Winsford and comfortably won 2-0 while United were putting the sword to Holker Old Boys. Margy made just 2 changes from the Saturday starting eleven with Gareth Ormes being replaced by Tony Cullen at left-back and Phil Power dropping out as Adie Orr returned to partner Patterson up front.



The United side lined up wearing a new colour combination, the mostly white away shirt and white socks matched with the home white shorts. The visitors kicked off attacking the goal at the Coppice Terrace end of the ground. The gusting and swirling wind was at United’s backs in the first period. The pitch, despite copious amounts of rainfall in the previous day or two, was in good condition. There were a couple of areas through the centre of the pitch where water was threatening to pool but the pitch was clearly in a playable condition.



In the early stages United pressed forward and kept the Great Harwood side pushed back. Several full-blooded challenges went in during those early stages with Rory Patterson seemingly being targeted as firstly the Cypriot under-21 international Theophanous and then Haworth brought the Irishman down with lusty challenges. Those early challenges set the tone for a very physical encounter that always seemed near to boiling over but never did. Somehow things never really got out of hand but this was, in my opinion, largely despite the match officials rather than because of them.




I have been pleasantly surprised about many aspects of this first season in the NWCL, the general standard of play has been better than I expected. The players, with few exceptions, play the game in a good competitive spirit which in turn makes life easier for the referees. I pity the top level referees who have to deal with players doing their utmost to cheat, con or otherwise gain an unfair advantage at every turn. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the sinner and the sinned against even with the benefit of multiple camera angles and slow-motion replays so it is no wonder that the top refs are seen to make mistakes. I had been concerned that the standard of refereeing at this (relatively lowly) level in the non-league pyramid might be poor. On the contrary, I have been impressed by almost all of the referees that I’ve seen this season. They generally let the players get on with the game and seem happy to ‘take a back seat’ unless things start to go awry. Unfortunately, I feel that the referee in this fixture confirmed my preseason fears although I have to believe that we just got him on a bad night. From the earliest stages he appeared to me to display an uncanny knack of awarding free-kicks in favour of the wrong team. Both sets of players were growing more and more bewildered as more and more seemingly arbitrary decisions were made. No-one accusation could be made of bias either because he probably gave just as many poor decisions against Great Harwood as he did against United.



Back to the game, United took the lead after 12 minutes through a Rory Patterson penalty kick. The award followed a bit of a scramble in the Town area after a quick throw-in was taken on the United left flank. The ball was fired in, probably by Torpey. Harris in the home goal did well to push the ball away but Josh Howard followed in at the far post and looked a certainty to score, again Harris did well as he smothered the attempt from Josh at close range but during the act of following up it seems that Howard had been pulled back by a covering defender. The referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot and Rory made no mistake as he sent Harris the wrong way to register his 14th goal of the season. 0-1.



The home side threatened an equaliser within a few minutes as freekick on the Harwood left was headed out by United’s defence. Lester Peters returned the ball from the edge of the area back goalwards and saw the effort thud against the foot of the right-hand post with Barrie George seemingly unsighted.



The first 2 cautions of the evening were soon dished out as Adie Orr was late on Harris as he tried to close down the goalkeeper. Moments later and Ed O’Neill, the Great Harwood number 3, also saw yellow, predictably for a foul on Patterson on the United right. Torpey took the resulting freekick which culminated in another good stop by Harris at the foot of his right-hand post. Again Harwood responded by creating an opening of their own as a goal-kick was not efficiently dealt with by the United backline leaving John Eastham with a brief sight of goal. The Town number 9 dragged his shot wide of goal from the right side.



On the half-hour Torpey sent a corner kick into the danger area that was headed out to Rob Nugent. United’s right-back couldn’t break through but he ball seemed to fall well for Orr but he lifted his shot over the bar from a very promising position. Patterson saw a decent shot well caught by Harris just before Kieran Fletcher saw yellow for a crude challenge on Will Ahern that left the United youngster looking slightly dazed for a minute or two.



With the half drawing to a close Adie Orr fired a snapshot with his left foot from the edge of the area that saw Harris scrambling across goal but the ball stayed marginally on the wrong side of the post, from a United point of view. At the other end, Great Harwood looked to take advantage of a freekick award near the United area. The freekick was spotted just a few yards from the 18 yard line left of centre and was taken as United were still forming their defensive wall. Fortunately Chris Simms was tuned into the danger and rose to get a partial block on the effort which then looped up comfortably for George to gather.




The final action of the half, in stoppage time, saw Harwood forward Yaqoob Khan injured in a collision with Barrie George as a through ball was threaded for the Town number 10 to chase. George arrived just before Khan and their momentum resulted in an inevitable collision. Khan walked to the changing rooms at half-time but did not retake his place on the pitch as the second half commenced. The unfortunate Khan was replaced by, ex Kendal Town player and new Great Harwood Town signing, Stuart Cliff.



The home side had the benefit of the wind at their backs in the second period and immediately looked a more potent outfit. On 49 minutes Barrie George was called upon to make an exceptional save from the GHT captain Ryan Fisher. Fisher let loose with a wind-assisted 25 yarder that Barrie did very, very well to keep out. United’s keeper very nearly blotted his copybook soon after as he came out as if to catch a corner kick from the Harwood left. Unfortunately George misjudged the flight of the ball and failed to make any contact. The resultant scramble saw 3 separate goal attempts by Great Harwood players but none of them could make even one of them count. Eastham then saw a freekick from 25 yards well tipped over by George as pressure seemed to be building on the United goal.



On 65 minutes Orr appeared to be brought down near to the penalty spot but the referee was not inclined to give a second penalty kick to the visitors. United then ought to have secured the spoils as a glorious chance was created and then spurned. Torpey did excellently to control a ball in before taking the ball beyond the left back with ease. The pullback was inviting and Patterson seemed to have the goal at his mercy but somehow the scorer from 12 yards managed to miss from half the distance as his shot looped up over the bar.



Two minutes later and Patterson created some room for himself but his final effort, again with the goal seemingly gaping, was weakly toe-poked toward goal allowing the defence ample time to intervene. The resulting corner kick was worked short between Howard and Torpey, the latter crossed to the far post where Adie Orr rose but failed to direct his header on target, instead screwing wide of the far-post. Orr again had an opportunity on 72 minutes as a great tackle from Rob Nugent broke for Josh Howard who switched play to the left flank where Orr carried the ball in on goal. The final shot was from a narrow angle and was easily saved by Harris.



United would soon rue the series of missed chances as Great Harwood resumed their wind-assisted assault on United’s goal. Dennis Hill took an in swinging freekick from the Harwood right flank that was well defended but at the cost of a corner kick from the same right flank. Again Hill teased in an in swinging ball but this time it was met by Cliff whose near-post header looped up over the defender on the line and into the net. 1-1.



United still had time to create one more presentable opportunity before the final whistle but Rob Nugent wasn’t able to keep his half-volley on target after a Torpey freekick fell to him beyond the farpost. In an increasingly fractious final 5 minutes Chadwick picked up a yellow card after Stuart Cliff was fouled and then Peters completed the bookings for yet another poor challenge on Patterson.




The final score of 1-1 might just about have been the right result. United will, however, look back on several chances to have doubled the lead that went begging. It seems to be a recurring theme lately that a lot of chances are generally being created but too few are being converted. Hopefully the likely return of Simon Carden to the fray in the next few weeks will see him back amongst the scorers which might take some of the load away from the front men who aren’t quite firing on all cylinders just now. By the end of the season this will probably be another match that will be looked back upon as a good point won rather than 2 points dropped because Great Harwood Town are finding good form and might well yet push themselves into the promotion mix.



As for man of the match candidates I found this match an unusually difficult one from which to choose my MoM. Ultimately I’ve gone for Rob Nugent, defensively the team did well to restrict GHT to few clear cut chances particularly in the second period. Rob is doing a great job in a position that is not his favourite and he was his usual solid self on Monday night. In addition to his normal reliable defensive performance I thought he offered more of an attacking threat than has been seen lately from rightback so that edged the decision in his favour. Barrie George was also in contention although a couple of mishaps, in admittedly very difficult goalkeeping conditions, on crosses counted against him for me.



(With thanks to FC United supporter Wayne Clark for supplying this match report. Match reports reflect the opionions of the contributor only and do not reflect the views of the board of FC United of Manchester)