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FC United into play-off final against Colwyn Bay

FC United will play Colwyn Bay on Bank Holiday Monday for a place in the Conference North after cruising past ten men Bradford Park Avenue 2-0 at the Horsfall Stadium on Thursday night.

Matthew Wolfenden and Jerome Wright got the goals as the Reds won in Bradford for the first time ever, at the sixth attempt, in front of a raucous crowd of 2,785 supporters.

In the build up to the match, manager Karl Marginson had asked the FC United faithful to create a cauldron of noise and the fans in attendance certainly disappoint. Some described the atmosphere as ‘Rochdale-esque’ and this was taken on by the two teams who began the match at a frantic pace.

United got off to a better start than their West Yorkshire rivals, with some of the Avenue players looking a little in awe of the crowd and occasion and a few of the hosts were rushing into tackles and leaving their legs in on the United players.

It was Reds who took the lead as Mike Norton chested a ball down from Kyle Jacobs just inside the box and unleashed a fierce shot, which while turned away by the Avenue ‘keeper, only fell into the path of Wolfenden who put the ball away from six yards out to give United the early lead.

The United front line had to feed on scraps as Avenue pushed on for most of the first half, leaving United to defend doggedly with plenty of clearances upfield when they got the ball. With the United defence being marshalled by an outstanding David Chadwick alongside the talented Scott McManus, they were proving hard for the home team to break down.

Despite the pressure, Avenue rarely tested Grant Shenton. Although there was one scare when the young United ‘keeper was called into action as a corner almost went in at near post. The ball struck the woodwork and United were able to clear, despite being caught by surprise by the effort.

Into the second half, it felt like United needed a second to fend off the pressure from the home team and they got that vital goal early on. Norton played in Wolfenden on the right who and his low cross was bundled in at the back post by Wright to send the United fans into raptures and almost certainly into the play-off final.

Avenue’s night got worse minutes later as James Riley followed up his yellow card in the first half for going in late on Wolfenden with another yellow for dissent, and a resulting red which saw the home team two goals down and down to ten men within minutes of the second half.

Norton had a goal disallowed for off-side and also went close with a great volley from the edge of the box. After good build up play, Jake Cottrell blazed a powerful drive from 25 yards out just over the bar. But United were making the extra man pay, as they looked dangerous coming forward at every opportunity.

All credit to Avenue though, they didn’t go down without a fight and should have had at least one goal as Matty James just rolled the ball wide as he went one-on-one with Shenton, and in the dying moments Aiden Savory had an open goal in front of him as the ball came across goal but he somehow managed to head wide of the back post.

The United faithful didn’t care how close the home team had come though all they were bothered about was another fantastic performance from the team, which now leaves them just one win from the Conference North and would cap off what has been an epic season for FC United both on and off the pitch.

As nearly 3,000 left Bradford on this evening, echoes of ‘que sera, sera’ could be heard as United look forward to an appetising Bank Holiday Monday clash at Colwyn Bay, with promotion to the Conference North the prize at stake.

Report by Craig Phillips

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First Posted ~ 15:01 Wed 11 May 2011
News ID ~ 3565
Last Updated ~ 15:01 Wed 11 May 2011