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Last minute defeat to Kendal sees FC United finish fourth

A last minute goal for Kendal saw FC United slip to their second defeat in nine days and finish fourth in the Evo-Stik Premier Division which means the Reds will play third placed Bradford Park Avenue in the play-off semi-final on Thursday.

With Bradford and Colwyn Bay both winning comfortably on Easter Monday, United needed all three points to stay in second place. The match was evenly poised at 1-1 throughout the second half and despite being urged on by a crowd of 2,839, the Reds just couldn’t find the vital breakthrough. In the end it was the visitors who stole a 2-1 victory in the dying moments.
United started with their third keeper in as many games as Grant Shenton played his first game for the Reds since November after being recalled from Ramsbottom United.
The game got off to a fairly slow start and United had barely got into gear before Mark Jackson put the visitors ahead on eight minutes.  Ex-FC winger Danny Williams was allowed to run through the centre of the park before playing in Jackson.  Lee Neville did well to get back to cover for the already committed Shenton and the left-back was able to block the initial shot on the line but was beaten on the follow-up attempt.
In a positive attacking move for FC, Neville played a good ball through to Mike Norton, however as the Kendal defence dealt with the possibility of Norton going for goal, Simon Carden was unlucky to escape only with a caution after going in late and high-footed on keeper Tom Newton.
Around half an hour in, Jerome Wright’s free kick forced Newton into action as the keeper stretched to tip the ball over the bar in a rare clear-cut chance for United.
Ten minutes later the Reds set the game level as the soon to be elected Supporter’s Player of the Season Norton headed home his 24th league goal of the season.  The move began with Wright who did well to win the ball under pressure inside his own half and play it wide to Scott McManus.  The centre-half then played a precision cross picking out Norton in the area who converted the chance with a superb header just before the break.
Presumably with an eye on Thursday’s semi-final, Marginson took the decision to replace Carlos Roca and Kyle Jacobs with Nicky Platt and Steve Torpey early on in the second half.
Midway through the half Torpey did well to cross from the right hand side for Wright to hit the ball on the half-volley just wide from the edge of the area.  Kendal substitute Carl Osman also looked to threaten on occasions and poor passing and hesitation in the United defence invited on the advances of the visitors.  
As the Reds pushed for an equaliser to try and confirm a second-placed finish, Torpey had a good chance with a low drive from just outside the 18-yard box which Newton did well to get hands to.  
The game entered into added time and as both teams pressed for the victory it was clear that it wasn’t to be United’s day as Kendal were awarded a controversial penalty with very little time left on the clock.
Kieran Walmsley stepped up to face Shenton and the United keeper did well to block the spot kick. Cheers from the FC faithful were however short lived as the ball ricocheted off the post and into a crowded area for Williams to send it over the line, giving Kendal the win just moments before the full-time whistle was blown.

Although obvious disappointment comes with a defeat on the final day of the season, surely nothing can be taken away from what has been a fantastic campaign for FC United who have done incredibly well to couple a superb run in the FA Cup with a top-five finish in the league in spite of lying close to the foot of the table at the beginning of the year.
The Reds now look to Thursday night with the task of overcoming in-form rivals Bradford Park Avenue in the play-off semi-final.  

Report by Victoria Fullen

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First Posted ~ 11:39 Tue 26 Apr 2011
News ID ~ 3560
Last Updated ~ 11:39 Tue 26 Apr 2011