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FC United finally beat Bradford Park Avenue - full report

Late goals from Carlos Roca and Jerome Wright gave FC United their first ever win over Bradford Park Avenue - at the tenth attempt - and a priceless three points in front of 1,962 supporters at Gigg Lane on Saturday afternoon.

A man of the match performance from goalkeeper Sam Ashton, which included numerous top-class saves, was largely responsible for keeping the Reds in the game, giving them the platform to steal victory with both goals coming in the last 10 minutes.

As has been the story in so many of the two sides’ previous encounters, the match looked set to be heading in Bradford’s favour especially when, with around 20 minutes remaining, the visitors put the ball in the back of the net, only for the goal to be ruled offside.

After that let-off, United’s attacking play went up a gear to produce a smash and grab victory, something they have been more used to being on the receiving end of over the years.

Ashton was called into action early on in the proceedings, as Avenue broke down the right and when Martin Parker missed the clearance inside the six yard box, the United keeper was on hand to deny Bradford from close range. Adam Clayton then looked to test Ashton with an effort from the edge of the area, and the shot-stopper did well to tip the ball out for a corner.

It was the visiting side who looked the more likely to score in the first half as the Reds seemed disjointed, seeming unable to play with the level of fluency needed to offer any real threat on the Bradford goal.

A chance did come for the Reds on the stroke of half time as United veteran Simon Carden showed good desire on a burst through the Bradford back line, only to be brought down on the edge of the area. Penalty claims were made, however the referee awarded a free-kick which in no way threatened the Avenue goal, summing up an uneventful 45 minutes for the Reds as the teams went in all square at the break.

United’s passing play seemed more fluent in the second half and the introduction of Roca just short of the hour mark had a positive influence on the game as the winger made his first appearance of the year, replacing Matthew Wolfenden on the right.

Jerome Wright almost found a way through with 25 minutes to go but his storming effort from the left was blocked on the line. The next action of the game then fell to the West Yorkshire side who were awarded a free-kick just inside the United half. The ball was sent in and Brett Renshaw rose for a glancing header into Ashton’s bottom left hand corner.

As the Green and Whites and their travelling support celebrated, relief fell over the rest of Gigg Lane in attendance as the goal was judged to be offside.

In the spell of play that followed, Aiden Savory was able to run beyond the United defence to go one-on-one with Ashton and as the forward looked on course to score, the FC keeper made an excellent one-footed block. Savory then came back for a second attempt and Ashton stepped up once more to deny the striker in a further one-on-one situation.

In spite of more goal-bound efforts from Avenue, the United no.1 was responsible for keeping the Reds in the game and Bradford were left rueing missed opportunities as Roca finally broke the deadlock on 82 minutes.

Wright crossed from the left and Bradford keeper Mark Hale missed the ball as it travelled across the face of goal. Roca was on hand to profit from the keeper’s mistake, putting the ball into the back of the net and United into the lead.

FC looked to build on the lead and as the game entered into added time, Wright doubled the advantage, with a storming shot from outside the area into the bottom left hand corner, wrapping up victory.

Less than convincing would arguably be a fair analysis of United’s performance, however, the team will be undoubtedly delighted to have finally broken the Avenue hoodoo as well as more importantly gaining maximum points from the last two games - a feat not achieved in the league since August.

Report by Victoria Fullen.

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First Posted ~ 16:13 Sun 9 Jan 2011
News ID ~ 3337
Last Updated ~ 16:13 Sun 9 Jan 2011