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Ten men United close-in on play-offs with thrilling victory

FC United of Manchester moved up to eighth and within just four points of the play-off places after a dramatic 4-2 victory over Chasetown on Wednesday night at Bower Fold.

The Reds were reduced to ten men and went 1-0 down via the penalty-spot moments before half-time but they fought back with one of the strongest performances of the season to claim a priceless three points.

Jake Cottrell got the equaliser a minute after Richard Battersby had been sent off and Mike Norton scored twice midway through the second half to make it 3-1 before Chasetown replied to set up a tense finale. The visitors were pressing for a late equaliser but it was FC United who deservedly got the sixth goal of the game right at the death through Matthew Wolfenden.

The game underwent a lively start as both teams, in their first encounter against each other, had to soak up pressure in the opening stages. The Scholars came close less than 10 minutes in but were prevented by David Chadwick’s saving header off the line.

FC United then began to take a hold of the game, as fluent passing saw the Reds push forward and pressure the Chasetown back-line. Cottrell and Wolfenden both had attempts on goal following good build-up play with United’s attack coming through several different outlets. Norton also came close, his shot from inside the area skimming the cross bar.

Despite attacking opportunities for United, it was the visitors who took the lead, profiting from a penalty decision. Dean Perrow connected with a cross from the right, diving in for a goal bound header, however the referee deemed the striker to have been impeded by Battersby and FC United’s right-back was dismissed from the field of play in the 43th minute.

Perrow stepped up and fired home the spot-kick, leaving FC a goal down, arguably against the run of play. The Staffordshire side’s lead was only to be momentary however as 10-man United produced an instant reply.

Cottrell received the ball from the right after good work by Wolfenden and squeezed his shot between the keeper and the post, and into the bottom corner, levelling the score-line on the stroke of half time.

The game became more tempered after the break and with the play being broken up by numerous stoppages it proved difficult for United to continue with the same fluency shown in the first half.

Once thee Reds were able to settle back into the game, the tempo was resumed and FC United pressed forward, on one occasion forcing visiting goalkeeper Ryan Price into a fine double save. Norton’s initial shot was blocked by the keeper, and as the striker fired again from the follow-up, Price did well to pull off a flying fingertips save.

On 66 minutes, Norton netted a second for United, putting the Reds ahead. The centre forward cut in from the left, escaped the attentions of the full-back and put the ball beyond Price from close range in what was a much-deserved goal for FC’s frontman.

Going behind for the first time in the game appeared to spur Chasetown on as the visitors went in search of an equaliser. David Egan had a chance from inside the area and pacey substitute Ramone Stephens looked to make an impact. However, United’s excellent play continued and Norton was set-up for his 20th goal of the season and FC United’s third of the night by left-back Lee Neville.

The defender carried the ball from the edge of his own area, making a superb run through the midfield and turning on the opposite 18 yard line to square the ball to Norton who made Neville’s fine individual effort count, slotting the ball past Price.

The Reds’ performance and work rate showed no sign of letting up as Karl Marginson’s side were clearly playing with further goals in mind. But with six minutes of normal time remaining, the visitors found a way back in as substitute Ben Jevons put a glancing header beyond Ashton.

This however proved to be no setback for United who remained in control, capping off a fantastic performance with a fourth goal on 87 minutes. Youth team graduate Matthew Tierney showed strength down the left, winning the ball, bursting beyond the tiring fullback before steering a deft cross with the outside of his right foot into the path of Wolfenden who fired home.

This will surely go down as one of United’s most impressive performances of the season so far, playing with desire and spirit in spite of only having ten men for more than 45 minutes of the game.

The Reds have now scored eight goals in two games, taken 10 points from 12, and will look to continue with this form as the play-offs become an increasing possibility.

Report by Victoria Fullen

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First Posted ~ 00:08 Fri 18 Feb 2011
News ID ~ 3423
Last Updated ~ 00:08 Fri 18 Feb 2011