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Reds Edged Out in Battle of the Giants

The FC United youth team narrowly lost their top of the table clash with Stalybridge Celtic at what could conceivably have been called St Bride’s Swimming Pool on Sunday in a 2-1 defeat. Heavy rain turned throughout the second half turned the pitch into a mud bath which played into the hands of the visitors more direct style of play.

The visitors started brightly, shooting narrowly over the bar in the first minute and dominating the early exchanges. Their style of long balls played down the middle two a tall forward line caused problems for a hard pressed defensive pairing of Nick Swirad and Toby Iloba.

It wasn’t until the 14th minute that FC caused any problems themselves. Sam Freakes, stung by last week’s criticism, gave the right response when cutting in from the left wing, a rasping drive was saved by Stalybridge keeper at his near post. Indeed it was Sam in a similar position who gave FC the lead shortly afterwards when a sweeping move from Jack Lyons out on the right wing via John Buckley gave him even more space to cut in. The shot across the keeper nestled in the bottom corner of the net.

The goal changed the course of the game and United dominated the next twenty minutes. Stalybridge keeper Liam Warner was fortunate only to receive a yellow card after catching Jack Lyons as he came out of his box to defend a one on one situation. The benefit of the doubt being given possibly because Jack had managed to get a shot past him before being caught, that however flew wide of the goal. Stalybridge were equally fortunate two minutes later as a penalty appeal was turned down as an FC player appeared to be tripped in the Stalybridge area.

Other chances came and went although Stalybridge had possibly the best one of all when having cleared an FC corner they broke down the other end and after a scramble in the box Mark Connor, brother of FC’s Shaun, had a clear sight of goal only to slice it as badly wide as might have been seen by those who watched the FA Cup highlights programme the previous evening. The escape though was only temporary when the almost Rio Ferdinand like assured defender of Nick Swirad turned into a Rio Ferdinand like lapse of concentration when he tried to head a long ball forward back to keeper Grant Shenton. The direction was all wrong and Stalybridge were quick to pounce with Lee Constantine finding the net just before half time to equalise.

As the second half started, so did the rain and the Stalybridge domination. This was rewarded in the 56th minute when Constantine took control of a scramble in the FC box to fire home what turned out to be the winner. The goal stung the home side into action, but by then the pitch was the worst enemy of their attempts to impose a controlled passing style. Unfortunately there was little of note until Stalybridge played out injury time with a session of free kicks near the FC corner flag that were rolled barely far enough to be considered legal and closed out the win.

The biggest winners of the weekend however were neither of the two sides on show here but Curzon Ashton, who along with the Giant Killing exploits of their senior side won 3-0 against Leigh Genesis and sit top of the lead as both FC United and Stalybridge saw points disappear as wins against Formby (4-2 and 8-3 respectively) rendered null and void with the Formby record was expunged for reasons as yet unknown.

FC United of Manchester
1. Grant Shenton
2. Shaun Connor
3. Barry Davies
4. John Buckley (Cautioned)
5. Nick Swirad
6. Toby Iloba
7. Mark Reeves
8. Gary Nolan (Cautioned)
9. Jack Lyons
10. Jamie Mack
11. Sam Freakes (Goal 21 minutes)
12. Steve Carson
14. Ashley Reece
15. Ryan Lewis Lyons
16. Shaun Williams (For 7, 63 minutes)
17. Josh Parkinson

Stalybridge Celtic ’A’
1. Liam Warner
2. Danny Higgins
3. Ali Cartwright
4. Nathan Barber
5. Matty Moores
6. Perry Johnson
7. Mike Brickhill
8. Mark Connor
9. Connor Jennings
10. Ben Aspinall
11. Lee Constantine
12. James Phythian
14. Joel Bembolith
15. Fabrice Bembolith
16. Danny Bayer
17. Matt Nee

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First Posted ~ 10:03 Tue 11 Nov 2008
News ID ~ 1926
Last Updated ~ 12:34 Mon 21 May 2018