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United win takes it to the wire

A last minute winner from Danny Williams at title chasing Ilkeston Town ensured that FC United’s promotion dreams will go down to the last game of the season next Saturday against Bradford Park Avenue.

The young substitute poked home the last-gasp winner to keep Karl Marginson’s men in the hunt for the play-off places whilst sending the travelling Red army into raptures. In an extremely tight game with very few chances, Williams scrambled the ball over the line to mean that FC United’s destiny is now in their own hands.

If the Reds beat Bradford at Gigg Lane next weekend then the season could well come down to goal difference. If all the other promotion hopefuls win their remaining games, Guiseley and Nantwich Town would join Ilkeston in the play-offs with United fighting it out with Bradford and Kendal Town for the final spot.

The West Yorkshire side have a trip to Leigh Genesis on Tuesday night and Kendal have one game left - at home to Buxton. If Kendal win and Bradford beat Leigh but lose to FC United - all three sides will finish on 74 points meaning that the final play-off place would be decided on goal difference. United currently have a goal difference of plus 24, to Bradford’s 23 and Kendal’s 21.

The victory over Ilkeston was as close as they come. United’s first attempt on goal came after 10 minutes when Jerome Wright laid the ball across goal from the left wing to Adam Tong but the big centre-back hoofed his effort over the bar from distance.

The Robins have been 1-0 specialists this season and it took them nearly 20 minutes to even threaten the United goal. Sam Duncum crossed from the left but Marc Newsham placed his header wide. Seconds later, Tunji Moses had the Reds’ best chance of the first half. Carlos Roca’s corner was headed out by a defender but the ball fell perfectly for Moses to volley it goalwards. Goalkeeper Chris Adamson had to be at his best to smother the shot out for a corner.

Ten minutes later, Roca was using his fast feet to dazzle the Ilkeston defence and he should have done better with his shot after a mesmerising run down the right wing but a lack of power made it easy for Adamson to save.

Down at the other end, Ben Pringle was looking like the liveliest threat for Ilkeston. The Robins’ number eight teed-up Duncum on the edge of the box and the forward should have made Sam Ashton work but he smashed his shot over.

The last five minutes of the first half began to be a little more stretched as both teams seemed keen to try to nick a lead to take into the interval. Roca was upended in the penalty area after Simon Carden had headed on Wright’s cross but the referee waved play on.

A minute later it was Adam Carden to the rescue as he used his pace to get back in time to thwart Pringle after it looked like the midfielder was on the verge of going one-on-one with Ashton. The stand-in right back had an exceptional game for the Reds, often acting like a sweeper to help them keep their 21st cleansheet of the season.

Into the second half and United were threatening from the off. Wright crossed from the left, Simon Carden flicked the ball on and Moses tried to place the ball in the corner but Adamson tipped it round the post.

The Reds, who were playing in their blue changed kit, began to take the game to Ilkeston but the well organised hosts were limiting the visitors to half chances. Just after the hour, a cross from Roca was headed out and Nicky Platt was unfortunate to see an acrobatic scissors kick sail over the bar.

Both sides made changes with Williams, David Chadwick and Jamie Baguley all coming on for United in the last half hour in place of Moses, Phil Marsh and Simon Carden. Chaddy partnered Williams up front in a bid to force the winner and even Tong joined the attack for large spells.

As United piled forward, gaps inevitably began to open up at the back. Ilkeston were also desperate to win the game to keep their title hopes alive and Anthony Church was dismayed to see his back post header go wide after being sent up by Duncum.

With just under 20 minutes to go, Robins substitute Tom Cahill could and possibly should have won it. A goalmouth scramble developed and the number 14 found the ball at his feet, he fired his shot goalwards but Ashton produced a superb point-blank save to keep United in the game.

Karl Marginson’s side were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Ilkeston. Roca sent a teasing cross into the area and a panicky Adamson punched the ball over his bar for a corner after coming under pressure from Williams. The signs were there that a goal might be coming but even the most optimistic United fans were surely beginning to wonder whether it was too little, too late.

Then, with 89 minutes up on the clock, Roca took the ball out to the left midway through Ilkeston’s half. The winger crossed into the box and Chadwick flicked the ball on to the back post. Tong was up in support and he managed to shield the ball from Pringle before flashing it low across the six yard area.

Chadwick prodded the ball goalwards but Robins’ captain Simon Weaver dived in desperately to deflect the ball away to the left post. Williams was there and shot first time with his right foot but this time Simon Harrison as there blocking. Despite that though, the ball fell invitingly for Williams on his left and he fired a shot across goal. After what seemed like an eternity - the ball sneaked in at the back post sparking sensational scenes around the New Manor Ground.

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First Posted ~ 12:18 Mon 20 Apr 2009
News ID ~ 2207
Last Updated ~ 12:25 Mon 21 May 2018