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Reds sunk by late strike

FC United threw away an early lead to go down 2-1 at Matlock Town with the winner coming in injury time to cap off another frustrating afternoon against a side struggling for UniBond Premier Division survival.

The Reds had looked on course for three vital points when Carlos Roca pounced on a poor back-pass from Danny Wood after nine minutes. Despite the visitors having most of the play and plenty of goal scoring opportunities, the Derbyshire side valiantly fought back for victory in front of 1,038 supporters at Causeway Lane.

Dene Cropper headed the equaliser against the run of play 10 minutes before the break and although Sam Ashton made an excellent penalty save from Ross Hannah two minutes before full-time, United still managed to lose the match in injury time.

The Reds were made to rue missed chances when Jamie Donnelly-Jackson struck in the 92nd minute, sealing a 2-1 win for the Gladiators and delivering a crushing blow for FC United’s promotion hopes.

It was another game that United will have to ask themselves how they managed to lose it such was their dominance at times. Possession and chances were not converted into goals and although goalkeeper Paul Pettinger made a couple of fine saves, the Reds should have found the back of the net more than just once.

United were straight out of the blocks and when Roca did open the scoring it was already his third chance of the match - firing his first effort narrowly wide and being denied by the legs of Pettinger on the second occasion.

He made no mistake with his third attempt though and after being accidentally put through by Wood, the diminutive forward flicked the ball beyond Pettinger.

Jamie Baguley had a long range effort saved as United looked to add to their lead but it was Roca who was looking the most lively, putting in one of his best performances for the club, and Pettinger had to be alert to make another solid save.

Then, out of the blue, on 35 minutes, Matlock were suddenly on level terms. Jackson found room on the right to deliver a good cross and Cropper evaded the attentions of the United defence to head into the bottom right hand corner.

Even with the setback, United looked like they had enough in the locker to overcome the hosts. Jerome Wright was getting in on the action and he crossed from the left for Carl Lomax but the striker’s header went over the bar. Wright then tried his luck when he had escaped down the left again but he pulled his shot across goal and beyond the back post.

Into the second half and United were still pressing hard to restore their advantage. Roca weaved his way through the defence but saw his shot cannon agonisingly off the post when the goal seemed to be at his mercy.

With just eight minutes to go, Roca raced clear of a static Matlock defence and the crowd held their breath as he went one-on-one with Pettinger. Roca looked certain to score but the keeper made a fantastic save - his best of the match - to keep the tie level.

With two minutes remaining, United had a massive let off. Jackson drove in a cross which struck the hand of Rob Nugent and despite the protests referee Scott Ledger pointed to the spot.

Ashton looked like he would be the hero of the hour as he saved the spot-kick and Jackson skied the rebound high over the bar.

But Hannah had not let the miss upset him as with the match deep into stoppage time he slipped in Jackson and the winger drove low and hard into the opposite corner to steal all three points.

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First Posted ~ 13:19 Thu 12 Mar 2009
News ID ~ 2113
Last Updated ~ 12:25 Mon 21 May 2018