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FC United out of FA Trophy in dramatic fashion - full report

FC United crashed out of the FA Carlsberg Trophy 2-1 at home to Hinckley United in a controversial match which saw a late sending off, a Reds’ penalty appeal turned down and a stoppage time equaliser disallowed for off-side.

After what was an average but enjoyable 80 minutes or so the game reached boiling point as the Reds pulled one back through Jerome Wright and the Conference North visitors appeared to be clinging on to victory with ten men under a barrage of FC United pressure.

There was also an unsightly touchline scuffle as tempers flared when a member of Hinckley’s coaching staff deliberately prevented the Reds from getting the ball back in play but the end result was that FC United fell at the third and final qualifying round of the competition for the second consecutive season.

Karl Marginson’s side started the game brightly enough, knowing that they had beaten three teams from higher leagues in three games this season but a makeshift defence, which saw Wright start at left-back, did look like it could be the undoing of them.

That was certainly the case as the United defence failed to pick up man mountain Jermain Clarke from a corner after seven minutes and the big forward gave the visitors the lead with their first attack of the game.

For a large part of the first half the Reds seemed a little flat but Carlos Roca looked to inject a bit of pace as he broke into the box past two defenders before seeing his effort well saved by The Knitters ‘keeper Dan Haystead.

United were reduced to speculative efforts from outside the box, as Jake Cottrell seemed to be intent on emulating his Spotland wonder strike and Chris Ovington’s long range effort was comfortable at best for Haystead.

Glynn Hurst had the ball in the net before the half hour mark as he pounced on a rebound spilled by Haystead but was judged to have been in an offside position when Nicky Platt original fired the ball towards goal.

The Knitters; so called because of the towns association with the wool and hosiery trade, put United to the sword just minutes later. Scott McManus gave the ball away at the edge of the United box and Lloyd Kerry pounced, slotting home to give the away team an always comforting two goal cushion.

The Reds pilled on the pressure towards half time with Platt scuffing an opportunity made from nothing by Wright, Roca forcing yet another save from Haystead and Hurst heading just over from the resulting corner. But United just couldn’t get a goal back before the interval.

The second half began where the first ended with United pressing well, with Roca working hard on the left and again forcing a save from Haystead early on.

But United were always wary of what The Knitters had to offer going forward and were reminded when James Reid went close with a free-kick and then Kerry was denied an almost certain second as Sam Ashton reacted well to save his close range effort and keep the game alive.

After those chances though it was only United who were going to trouble the scoreboard as Jerome Wright hit the bar from a long range free-kick. Two great chances followed and left Untied fans wondering how they were still two down.

Firstly, Cottrell was played in by substitute Matthew Wolfenden and found himself one-on-one with Haystead but somehow managed to beat the ‘keeper and put the ball well wide of the goal in the process.

With less than 20 minutes left Carlos Roca and Chris Ovington found themselves two-on-one with the Hinckley defence, Roca opted to take it on alone when a ball to Ovington would have surely put him in line for a goal and the chance came to nothing.

It was from nothing that United got their goal. Moments after The Knitters were reduced to ten men with Sam Belcher dismissed for a second bookable offence, the Reds won a free-kick.

As Wright was lining up the kick from the right, most people inside Gigg Lane expected him to cross the ball into the box but he instead opted to shoot, taking everybody by surprise as his effort sneaked by Haystead at his near post. This ensured a grandstand finish to the game as the crowd got well behind the home team, sensing more last gasp cup drama.

United were denied a penalty late on as the referee turned down any protest from the home players after Karl Munroe was seemingly hacked down in the penalty area. Munroe’s defensive partner McManus then took offence to a member of the Hinckley coaching staff standing in front of him as he tried to get the game going with a quick throw-in. The away team appeared to be using underhand tactics as they resembled Audley Harrison pawing away the haymakers of the United attack.

United looked for one last attack and when substitute James Holden slotted home from in the box with just seconds remaining the United faithful thought another cup tie had been turned around in the dying seconds but for the second time that afternoon they were dismayed to see the assistant referee signalling for another offside.

Although United didn’t make it to the first round proper for the second consecutive season, a lot can be taken from the game especially the heart and fight shown in the latter stages by players who to be fair struggled to get going early on, and yet again another good performance against a team from a higher league albeit if this one ended in defeat.

The Reds now go to Ashton United on Monday in the League Challenge Cup, before the long journey as David meets another Goliath in the form of Gus Poyet’s Brighton & Hove Albion next Saturday in the FA Cup.

Report by Craig Phillips

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First Posted ~ 01:15 Mon 22 Nov 2010
News ID ~ 3237
Last Updated ~ 01:15 Mon 22 Nov 2010