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Roses battle for first round proper

FC United are aiming to make the first round proper of the FA Carlsberg Trophy for the first time in the club’s history on Saturday but to do so the Reds must defeat Conference North strugglers Harrogate Town.

Manager Karl Marginson will be hoping his team have come through a sticky patch after recording a 3-2 victory at Hucknall Town last Saturday following a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Buxton and an unconvincing 1-0 extra-time win over 10-men Lancaster City in the previous round of the Trophy.

United have got to the third and final qualifying round just once before. Last season they were unceremoniously knocked out 3-1 by Boston at Gigg Lane at this stage and during their inaugural foray into the competition in 2007/08 old rivals Bradford Park Avenue saw them off in similar fashion; 4-1 in a preliminary round replay.

Despite our poor previous history in the Trophy, the competition represents a realistic chance of some prestigious silverware, some much needed prize money and of course a trip to Wembley Stadium for the finalists, so everyone connected to the club will be hoping to be in the hat for the first round proper.

Saturday’s visitors, Harrogate Town are the third Conference North side United have faced this season. The Reds know that on their day they can provide problems for teams from the division above having dumped Stalybridge Celtic out of the FA Cup and then holding giant-killers Northwich Victoria for nearly an hour in the fourth qualifying round of the same competition.

The visitors from North Yorkshire currently sit bottom of the table and are going through a torrid time. They’ve won just one of their last 10 matches in a dismal run which stretches back to 12 September. In that time, the Sulphurites’ only victory came by the slenderest of margins - 3-2 - in the West Riding County Cup against UniBond Division One South outfit Goole.

All Conference North teams get a bye to the third qualifying round of the Trophy so FC United are Harrogate’s first - and hopefully final - opponents in this year’s competition. Encouragingly for United, Bradford Park Avenue recorded a 4-0 victory over Harrogate at the Horsfall Stadium in September in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.

Despite the current bad run of form, United will not want to take their opponents lightly. The Sulphurites have been in the Conference North for five years and until last season when they finished ninth, they had never finished outside of the top six.

They have a decent record in the FA Trophy too, making it to the first round proper or further no fewer than 11 times since they first entered the competition in 1974. The Sulphurites best run to date came in 2001/02 when they were eventually beaten 2-0 by Doncaster Rovers in the third round.

Although tings haven’t gone according to plan for the club under new manager Simon Weaver, Harrogate have a decent squad with experienced players like ex-Leicester man Trevor Benjamin and midfielder Curtis Woodhouse is a professional boxer with a 10-1 (5) record who has played for League clubs such as Hull City and Sheffield United before lacing up his gloves and getting into the professional ring in 2006.

FC United of Manchester versus Harrogate Town is this Saturday at Gigg Lane with kick-off 3pm and entrances fees the usual £7.50 for adults, £5 for concessions and £2 for under-18s. Get yourself to that football ground and help the Reds make it into the first round proper for the first time.

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First Posted ~ 11:00 Thu 19 Nov 2009
News ID ~ 2550
Last Updated ~ 12:25 Mon 21 May 2018