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Never mind the play offs, feel the title

With the first team playing Frickley Athletic at Stalybridge few eyes were diverted to St Brides as the youth team took on Mossley in what amounted to an NWYA title showdown. It was always going to be touch and go as to whether the game could be completed or not, and so it proved; as the light got gradually worse from the hour mark onward. The seniors may have provided more goals but they surely could not have played at a higher tempo. It would be difficult to give full credit for the performance of the players individually and to Hayden Buckley-Smith , Carl Fitton, Matthew Tierney, Obied Elghreaw, Lee Worswick and Jake Haslam, who don’t get a mention below, it is only because you went about your tasks with such a quiet and dogged determination. Suffice it to say that the players did everything that was asked of them and more as they not only won the game but kept Mossley goalless. For that alone they deserve the glory of the title League Champions.

The early season table showed Mossley stake their claim to the title but that owed more to the vagaries of the fixture computer and FC’s delayed start. Earlier games have already been well documented but by the time of Wednesday’s clash, FC were 13 points clear although the visitors had three games in hand.

Mossley therefore needed to win and started like they wanted to make it a formality as soon as possible, chasing every ball and allowing FC little or no time on the ball and dominated possession to the extent that it took eight minutes for the reds to register an attack of note and win their first corner. From then on FC found themselves creating chances , Dylan Moloney shot from 25 yards was saved and a cross from Jay Walcott led to two desperate defensive blocks. Harrison Reeve saw two efforts cleared by defenders on the goal line around the half hour mark.

Throughout this Mossley provided a threat of their own and were unfortunate shortly afterwards when a promising break was shepherded out for a corner. Other half chances came and went as the first half closed goalless.

Frequently when a first half is played at a high tempo, the second half has a gentler flow to it, this was not the case as if anything the pace of the game increased and players went from little time to think to none whatsoever. Chances were inevitably snatched and generally of target although Mossley claim for a more relaxed strike from the penalty spot after 55 minutes was turned down, a later claim that seemed better was also turned down, the referee ideally paced to make the call on both occasions.

Home attacks continued with Sam Howell firing just over after a pass from Harrison and a Ryan Lyons free kick provided a shot for Dylan that the keeper saved. Just after the hour James Green came on for Lee Worswick and soon after the deadlock was broken. Ryan’s throw to the edge of the box was eventually fired home by Harrison.

Sensing an end to their league challenge much of the remainder involved Mossley trying desperately to get back in to the game and heroic action by the home defence and midfield to prevent it. By now the home bench were casting nervous glances to the ever darkening sky, hoping the game would not be abandoned on safety grounds. That it wasn’t and the pace of the game continued pays tribute to the quality and effort put in by both sides. Indeed when Mossley had a free header and a mishit shot in the last five minutes the quality and effort could only be truly appreciated by those actually playing.

The game was played to a finish and FC took the points. They now have three games to claim the three points that will clinch the title starting back at St Brides on Sunday against Altrincham and the return at Seel Park on April 26th. To these players and everyone else that has contributed to such an epic season our gratitude is owed.

FC United of Manchester: Hayden, Buckley-Smith, Ryan Lyons, Carl Fitton, Matthew Tierney, Obied Elghreaw, Harrison Reeve, Lee Worswick (Jimmy Green 63 mins), Sam Howell, Dylan Moloney, Jay Walcott. Subs not used: Aron Buckley-Smith, Davison Banda, Kane Joyce, Jordan Evans.

Goal: Harrison Reeve (64 mins)

Caution: Carl Fitton.

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First Posted ~ 13:58 Tue 19 Apr 2011
News ID ~ 3537
Last Updated ~ 13:58 Tue 19 Apr 2011