|Venue||Wincham Lane, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 6GB, Marstons Arena|
|Competition||EvoStik League Premier Division|
|1 J Spencer (capt)|
2 D Collins
3 D Thompson
4 S Woods
5 J Cherel
6 N Sorvel
7 W Riley
8 P Henry
9 J McAliskey
10 A Fowler
11 D Rowe
12 J Crane (for 10, 92 mins)
16 D Fitzpatrick (for 11, 82 mins)
17 L Macardle (for 9, 91 mins)
|1 Sam Ashton|
2 Kyle Jacobs (capt)
3 Richard Battersby
4 Nick Platt
5 Karl Munroe
6 Scott McManus
7 Carlos Roca
8 Jake Cottrell
9 Glynn Hurst
10 Jerome Wright
11 Ben Deegan
12 Simon Carden (for 9, 75 mins)
14 James Holden (for 2, 10 mins)
18 Chris Ovington (for 11, 75 mins)
|One second half goal was enough to separate FC United and Northwich Victoria as the Reds’ seven game winning streak came to an end in a closely fought encounter at the Victoria Stadium on Saturday afternoon.|
An Andy Fowler strike just after the hour consigned the Reds to their first defeat since the 2nd of October but they will be bitterly disappointed as they went close to equalising on several occasions including Jerome Wright hitting the bar twice.
The Vics were reduced to 10 men for the last 10 minutes as they paid the price for their robust tackling with David Thompson receiving his marching orders for a second bookable offence. However, despite a late FC United onslaught, the Trickies held on for victory.
Following a minute’s silence for this week’s Remembrance Day, it was United who started the more brightly of the two sides with Carlos Roca going close. Richard Battersby, who along with Roca was returning to one of his old clubs, fired the ball up towards Ben Deegan.
The big striker held the ball up well before threading it through to Wright on the left who crossed low and hard across the six yard box, both Glynn Hurst and Roca were trying to get on the end of it and it was Roca who slid the ball into the side netting.
With 10 minutes gone, United captain Kyle Jacobs needed to be substituted. Jacobs got into a tangle with Wayne Riley which let the Vics midfielder through on goal. Fortunately, Scott McManus was on hand to put in a superb covering sliding tackle but it was the last piece of action for Jacobs as Jimmy Holden was brought on to replace him.
Moments later, Roca got the first taste of how his afternoon was going to pan out when he sprinted through the middle and centre-back Steve Woods promptly flattened him, making no attempt to play the ball. Woods was rightly booked and United had a free-kick 40 yards from goal. Wright curled the free-kick in to the back post and Hurst’s header was parried out for a corner by James Spencer.
Five minutes later and Spencer was called into action again when Deegan went close with an acrobatic overhead kick from a Wright cross on the left but it was well saved.
It wasn’t relentless United pressure but they were the team creating the better chances in the opening stages and Northwich, who were demoted over the summer for financial issues, although comfortable on the ball certainly didn’t look as threatening as the side that dumped the Reds out of the FA Cup 3-0 last season.
Northwich’s first decent shot on goal came in the 27 minute when the lively Riley pounced on a poor clearance by Holden. However, Riley, who scored the third and final goal for the Vics against United last season, shot wide of the target when he really should have done better.
On the half hour mark, Jake Cottrell picked out Hurst who turned and shot just wide but the referee’s assistant raised his flag for off-side, it would become a familiar sight for both teams throughout the afternoon.
The best chance of the first half came just minutes before the break. McManus unleashed Roca down the right with a great throughball. The tricky winger raced away and into the box unchallenged but with Hurst and Wright up in support, Roca opted to shoot rather than pull the ball back and his shot rippled the side-netting.
Into the second half and the hosts appeared to half stepped up their game. Dominic Collins curled a cross into the six yard box causing a goalmouth scramble which saw Riley fire just wide of the post. It was a let off for United. Down at the other end, Thompson earned his first booking of the day by taking out Roca unnecessarily.
With just over an hour gone, a long ball from the back by the Vics was headed on by John McAliskey and then Riley to Fowler on the right wing. The forward surged towards the edge of the box and with Battersby not quite getting close enough, he fired the ball low and hard into the far corner to scored what would be the decisive goal. It was a sweet strike and one Fowler was clearly pleased with as the former Everton trainee decided to run over to goad the travelling red army.
Six minutes later and United should have been back on level terms. Deegan was excelling at holding the ball up and after a tricky run across the backline he slipped in Wright who looked certain to score but he smashed the ball onto the top of the bar.
With less than 15 minutes to go, Wright managed to do it again. McManus played a free-kick through to the winger and with Collins losing his footing Wright was allowed clean through on goal but he drilled his shot onto the top of the bar once again. Following this, substitutes Simon Carden and Chris Ovington were brought on for Deegan and Hurst.
Moments later Thompson’s tough tackling inevitably earned him a second booking and Northwich had to reshuffle in a bid to hold out for the draw. With time ticking on, United had a debatable penalty appeal waved away as Roca was a upended in the box.
Into the final minutes and United were desperately trying to make the extra man advantage pay dividends. Roca weaved his way down the left before switching the ball to the right for Ovington. The young winger whipped in a dangerous ball but the lunging Carden was inches away from connecting.
United’s final chance of the day came in injury time when a cross from deep by Battersby was met by Cottell, however the midfielder’s header was easily saved by Spencer. Seconds later, the referee blew the final whistle and brought the curtain down on FC United’s winning streak.
As always, the red army applauded their team’s hard work as the players thanked them for their support. Northwich manager Andy Preece also took the time to acknowledge the FC United faithful, which was a good sporting gesture. The Reds must now pick themselves up for the trip to Colwyn Bay on Tuesday.