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Reds lose out at Kettering

An early goal in the first half followed by a second two minutes before time was enough for Kettering to secure a victory over FC United in the first game of the Reds’ pre-season campaign.

With arguably the biggest turnover of first team personnel the club has ever seen, United kicked off the pre season with several new arrivals eager to make an impression on the FC Faithful making the trip down South to Kettering. There were of course a few familiar faces in the mix, including Nick Robinson and Jamie Baguley, responsible for the first kick of the new season.

The home side started the game lively, throwing power into the attack and launching into an early chance, forcing Sam Ashton to make an excellent one-handed save. Kettering’s Chris Beardsley was able to overcome the FC defence to put himself one-on-one with the keeper; however Ashton was able to guide the resulting shot round his left post to put the Reds temporarily out of danger.

Unfortunately for FC, just minutes later, a controversial free kick was awarded to Kettering on the right wing courtesy of the FC captain, David Chadwick. In the play that followed, Eaden and Galbraith were able to link up well for Kettering down the wing and a cross was floated across the box to be headed down past Ashton by Guy Branston to put the Blue Square Premier side one - nil up on six minutes.

However, FC weren’t about to go down without a fight and a good bit of play through the midfield saw Robinson turn the ball back into the path of Chris Baguley who coolly slotted it past the keeper. Unfortunately, the flag was already up for offside, leaving the game still in Kettering’s favour.

In the events that ensued, the home side had several chances to extend their lead, one of the most notable coming when Gareth Seddon failed to put the ball into an open net. The ball was pulled back into a confused United area and was dummied by Beardsley and left for the number seven to slot it easily into the goal. Unbelievably and undoubtedly to the delight of the travelling supporters, Seddon sliced his shot wide of Ashton’s left post from 10 yards out.

In a rare United attack, Micah Bleau played a sweeping ball from the defence to new boy Carlos Rocca waiting by the left corner flag. Rocca crossed the first time ball on the bounce to Robinson at the far post whose header down towards the Kettering goal was ineffective due to the attentions of the opposition defence.

Play then resumed at the opposite end of the park with Kettering producing more chances to add to their lead, the first of which coming when a corner resulted in a powerful header resounding off the cross bar. Ashton was then forced to make another brilliant save when he tipped a storming shot on goal from Beardsley over the bar.

All in all, United went in at half time having done well to keep the Blue Square North champions’ lead to a minimum following four or five clear cut chances for Kettering.

The FC United line up remained unchanged from the first half endeavours and it was once again Kettering who started the half strongly. However, it was the Reds who looked set to add to the score sheet when Robinson sent a powerful header into the back of the net. Unfortunately, in doing so, FC’s number nine created his own space by pushing a Kettering defender and the joy of the travelling support was short lived when the goal was ruled out.

In typical friendly style, both sides were able to make frequent substitutions, the first of which for FC coming on 61 minutes with James Brackenbridge, Shaun Roscoe, Danny Self and Kyle Harrop replacing Bleau, Liam Foster, Dale Whitehead, and Chris Baguley. The change allowed for Bradley Howard to move into central defence alongside Chadwick, and for Roscoe and Harrop to take up the left and right back positions respectively. The change notably tightened up the defence for the remainder of the proceedings.

With the Reds offering little in the way of testing the Kettering goal and the home side making changes every few minutes, another three United subs were introduced on 70 minutes. Rob Howarth, along with new arrivals Luke Hargreaves and Dave Neville, replaced Adam Carden, Carlos Rocca and Jamie Baguley.

Kettering still maintained their superiority in the game and it wasn’t until the closing stages that United’s Hargreaves had a shot on goal deflected just over the cross bar. Unsurprisingly and most probably in keeping with the flow of the game, Kettering had the final say when a breakaway goal was scored two minutes before time.

A last minute corner for FC United was cleared by the Kettering defence and Jean-Paul Marna was able to carry the ball into acres of open space and identify Chris Hanna at the far post. With the FC defence and Sam Ashton clearly beaten, all that was left for Hanna to do was slot the ball over the line to seal the Poppies’ victory on 88 minutes.

With many Reds making their debuts and old familiar faces missing from the line up, many would argue that United did well to keep Kettering’s goal tally to just two in consideration of the fact that the Blue Square Premier side had numerous chances to put the game beyond doubt. The fans making the trip down to Kettering gained a taster of the season to come and would undoubtedly agree it’s good to be back.

Report by Victoria Fullen.

1. Ben Webster
2. Nicky Eaden (Ashley Lawrence 64)
3. Luke Graham
4. Darren Wrack (Kevin Spencer 76)
5. Guy Branston
6. John Dempster (c) (Tom Kemp 52)
7. Gareth Seddon (Chris Hanna 72)
8. Brett Solkhon
9. Chris Beardsley (Jon Brady 52)
10. Jean-Paul Marna
11. David Galbraith (Ryan Collis 79)

FC United of Manchester
1. Sam Ashton
2. Liam Foster (Kyle Harrop 61)
3. Bradley Howard
4. Dale Whitehead (James Brackenbridge 61)
5. David Chadwick (c)
6. Micah Bleau (Shaun Roscoe 61)
7. Adam Carden (Dave Neville 70)
8. Chris Baguley (Danny Self 61)
9. Nick Robinson
10. Jamie Baguley (Rob Howarth 70)
11. Carlos Rocca (Luke Hargreaves 70)

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First Posted ~ 11:32 Mon 21 Jul 2008
News ID ~ 1723
Last Updated ~ 17:14 Fri 11 Oct 2013