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Reds face replay after six goal thriller - full report

FC United and Stalybridge will meet again on Tuesday night after a thrilling 3-3 draw on Sunday afternoon in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup.

The Reds raced into a fantastic 3-1 lead inside the hour but were pegged back by their Blue Square Conference North neighbours in a gripping game of football.

Carlos Roca broke the deadlock on 13 minutes and the United faithful were on cloud nine when Phil Marsh doubled the lead 10 minutes before the break. However, Celtic struck back through Matty Barlow four minutes later.

United started the second half just as they had the first and it was no surprise when captain David Chadwick added a third five minutes in. But all credit to Bridge, they kept their heads and fought back with two goals from Joe O’Neill, one of which came from a penalty.

There was an electric atmosphere inside Gigg Lane as 2,819 supporters turned out to witness an intriguing local derby battle. And the Reds responded to the occasion tremendously, shooting out of the blocks giving their visitors no time to settle.

United fired the first warning inside 10 minutes when Steve Woods had to desperately hack the ball off the line after Ben Deegan met a dangerous corner kick from Jerome Wright and Chadwick helped a Tunji Moses’ overhead kick onto the post.

With their tails up, the Reds ploughed forward and minutes later Marsh collected the ball from Roca. The striker held the ball up well before brilliantly slipping it out to the right for Roca. Roca had surged into acres of space and confidently rifled the ball into the bottom left corner giving Bridge ’keeper, Paul Phillips no chance. A superb goal to start what would become an incredible match.

United were looking lively and taking the game to Celtic but when the visitors did manage to get the ball they were looking composed and threatening on the break. Chadwick was putting in another absolutely immense performance though.

On 23 minutes O’Neill managed to latch on to a loose ball after a mix-up in midfield and looked to be beating United’s captain for pace as he bore down on goal. However, Chaddy muscled his way in and flicked the ball up into the air with a slide tackle before leaping back to his feet to calmly head back to Sam Ashton.

Ten minutes later and Bridge we threatening again. Chaddy conceded a contentious free-kick on the right wing and Ashton had to be at his best to tip Warren Peyton’s 30-yard effort round the near post with one hand.

The two scares seemed to re-energise United and Simon Garner cut out a through ball in the left-back position before playing it forward for Adam Carden to race away with. Carden took on two defenders before slipping the ball out to Marsh on the right. Marsh cut inside on the edge of the box before drilling his shot into the same corner as Roca had done 20 minutes earlier. Another great move which was executed with speed and finesse.

The Reds were playing some of their best football ever but Stalybridge are clearly a good footballing side and they never looked fazed, even at two goals down. Seconds after the restart Chadwick had to appear from nowhere to make another superb last ditch tackle - this time denying Connor Jennings who looked certain to score after going one-on-one with Ashton.

With five minutes to go before half-time, the visitors got the goal they needed to keep them in the game. Captain Keith Briggs picked out Dave Hankin’s run after he had escaped the attentions of Garner. The right winger put the ball on a plate for Barlow to fire past a helpless Ashton at close range.

If Celtic thought that United would be a spent force in the second half, they received the clearest indication possible that it wasn’t the case literally seconds after the interval. Wright raced away down the left wing and his low cross into the six yard box was met by Roca. He drilled his shot low, hard and beyond Phillips but John Hardiker had positioned himself perfectly to make another goal line clearance.

Just as with the first half, United coming close early on was simply a taster of what was to come. Four minutes later Deegan was fouled as he held the ball up on the right wing with his back to goal.

Wright swung the ball in dangerously from 22 yards out and Adam Tong stuck out a long leg helping it on. The ball crashed against the right angle of bar and post on the far side and with the Celtic defence in disarray, Deegan scrambled backwards to loft the ball towards goal. Chadwick used his knee to lift Deegan’s effort over the despairing Phillips who was having a torrid time. A scrappy goal but one which was met with just as much joy around the stadium as United’s previous two.

Despite another early setback Celtic were far from finished. Five minutes later, with a peach of a cross field pass out to the right found Hankin who was again too quick for Garner. The winger provided an almost identical ball to the one which had created the visitor’s first goal and this time O’Neill was the grateful recipient - making no mistake from less than five yards out.

Celtic then came into their own and started taking the game to United. Ashton made good saves from O’Neill and Barlow and the crossbar also came to the Reds’ rescue. The equaliser looked like it was coming, however United will be disappointed with the manner in which it did.

O’Neill was forced wide by Chadwick and the big number five blotted an otherwise perfect performance with a seemingly unnecessarily lunge in the area. Replays suggest Chadwick played the ball but it was enough for the referee to point to the spot. O’Neill picked himself up to fire the penalty high into the net, making it 3-3 with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Stalybridge were in the ascendency and went in search of a winner. They nearly got one but Hankin hit the post and the side netting with two close range efforts. United also went within inches of stealing it though and when Roca and Wright linked up well, Phillips produced one of his best saves of the match to deny Wright what would have been an amazing injury time winner.

Vote for your man of the match here.


FC United
1. S Ashton
2. A Carden
3. S Garner
4. T Moses
5. D Chadwick (capt)
6. A Tong
7. C Roca
8. J Cottrell
9. B Deegan
10. J Wright (cautioned 69)
11. P Marsh
12. S Carden
13. G Shenton
14. R Nugent (for 6 60)
15. J Mack
16. B Morris
17. A Ibrahim
18. D Warrender

Scorers: Roca 15, Marsh 35, Chadwick 50

Stalybridge Celtic
1. P Phillips
2. A Smart
3. G Law
4. S Woods
5. W Peyton
6. J Hardiker
7. D Hankin
8. K Briggs (capt)
9. J O’Neill
10. M Barlow
11. C Jennings
12. C Hobson (for 11 60)
14. R Battersby (for 2 51)
15. M Carr
16. P Ennis (for 10 83)
17. R Moss
18. O Abadaki
19. G Wilkinson

Scorers: Barlow 39, O’Neill 55, 68 pen

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First Posted ~ 11:40 Tue 13 Oct 2009
News ID ~ 2468
Last Updated ~ 12:25 Mon 21 May 2018