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Too little, too late as Reds go out

FC United’s Jekyll and Hyde season continued as they conceded three goals to Harrogate Town before playing the Conference North side off the park but still losing 3-2.

A poor start to the game saw United go down 3-0 to the visitors after 52 minutes and deservedly so. However, the Reds were a different team in the last half an hour and a win wouldn’t have flattered them as they tore the North Yorkshire club apart in an ultimately unsuccessful comeback campaign.

Simon Carden scored both of United’s goals but unfortunately it wasn’t enough as the visitors had raced into an unassailable lead. Craig James headed home on 15 minutes, Rory Coleman doubled the score with a spectacular strike nine minutes later and substitute Adam Novakowski all but sealed the match seven minutes into the second half.

Harrogate arrived at Gigg Lane bottom of the Conference North, however, perhaps surprisingly, they didn’t start the match like a team short on confidence.

After a few half chances for both sides, James was left unopposed to head home a corner from Dave McTiernan to make it 1-0. United could have got back in the game immediately but a penalty appeal was waved away when Phil Marsh went down in the box.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Nick Swirad was continuing to impress at the heart of the United defence. The youngster was on hand to clear a goal bound shot inches from the line when the rest of the United backline looked beaten.

Sadly the relief was short lived. Two minutes later Coleman scored a brilliant goal from at least 30 yards out which was such a moment of individual skill it received applause from the United faithful. Reds keeper Sam Ashton may have been slightly too far off his line but regardless, he couldn’t have planned for Coleman’s stunning lob from the left wing.

United should have given themselves a lifeline just before the half hour mark but Marsh saw his penalty saved by Arron Ratchford after the keeper had been judged to have brought down Simon Carden.

And things went from bad to worse when Novakowski took advantage of howler by Ashton to make it 3-0 moments after the restart. The United keeper tried to take the forward on in his own area but was dispossessed allowing Novakowski to roll the ball into an empty net.

For some reason the third goal sparked FC United of Manchester onto life. Carden scored a header from a corner, flicking substitute Rob Nugent’s header over the line. Carden topped his goal off with a suitably good impression of Brian McClair - grabbing the ball from the back of the net to get the game restarted as quickly as possible.

United were in the ascendancy. Yoffe could and should have scored 10 minutes later after being played in by Carlos Roca but his firmly hit effort from the edge of the box looped over the bar after a reflex save from the fortunate Ratchford.

Moments later Roca went close. The lively winger cut in from the right wing to shoot dangerously across goal and Ratchford could only parry away at the back post. The visitors were on the ropes. A fact that was confirmed by time wasting tactics which saw four Harrogate players booked by some strong refereeing.

With five minutes to go United finally got the second goal that they had been threatening. Carden slid home a great cross from Adam Tong, who had been thrown up front to lead the fight back.

A minute later Tong could have got the equaliser. Jerome Wright curled a cross in from the left wing and Tong stabbed the ball first time agonisingly wide of the right post. United had one last chance with two minutes to go but Roca saw his effort fly wide of the other post.

As ever United were applauded off the pitch but there will be few supporters who argue that Karl Marginson’s side must start performing at their best for the full 90 minutes if they are to put a good run together.

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First Posted ~ 12:30 Wed 25 Nov 2009
News ID ~ 2559
Last Updated ~ 12:30 Wed 25 Nov 2009