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FC United get 2012 off to a flyer at Bradford - full report

FC United sent out a New Year’s warning to their promotion rivals by romping to a 5-2 victory against sixth placed Bradford Park Avenue on a Bank Holiday Monday for the second time this season.

The Reds came from 1-0 down to go 3-1 up by half-time with goals from Nicky Platt, Paul Armstrong and Michael Norton. An Adam Jones header and a strike by Matthew Wolfenden made it 5-1 after the interval before the hosts netted a late consolation.

The extraordinary win sees United move to within just one point of the play-off places. It’s the Reds’ fourth consecutive victory over Avenue, who until last season had been United’s bogey side since the teams first met in 2007.

Bradford would have probably felt justified in taking the lead on 16 minutes, as despite the score line, it was the home side who produced the stronger start to the game, testing the United defence and hitting the cross bar as the Reds struggled to keep the ball.

An interception from James Spencer’s throw saw Avenue break across the box and although Daniel Grimshaw looked to be on hand to clear the ball off the line, Curtis Bernard managed to nestle the ball into the bottom corner.

Bernard then burst through and could have gone on to confront Spencer one-on-one, if not for a well-timed last ditch tackle which put the Bradford goal scorer off course at the last minute.

Following a fine string of saves from Spencer, Jake Cottrell carried the ball away from danger and squared across the midfield to Wolfenden. Paul Armstrong came in on the overlap and crossed into Platt who took a controlling touch before producing a fine finish on the half volley.

The FC faithful were then in store for a New Year’s treat as two more United goals followed in quick succession, turning the game on its head. Armstrong again provided a good overlapping run and brought the ball to the edge of the area before chipping the keeper.

With celebrations still ongoing, United increased their lead still further less than a minute later. A clearance by the FC backline saw Norton nick the ball as the Bradford defender struggled to negotiate the heavy pitch. The striker looked to profit from the opportunity and skipped past two defenders before chipping the keeper who’d already gone to ground.

Three goals in five minutes buoyed the Reds on and after the break cushioned by a two goal lead; the team pressed on and added two more.

A free-kick into the back post saw a scramble with Adam Clayton, who on trying to clear inadvertently bundled the ball over his own line. The impressive Stephen Johnson then made a strong run down the right, beating his man before sending in a cross to the far post which Wolfenden blasted into the roof of the net.

A double substitution followed for FC as Richard Battersby and Matthew Tierney replaced Grimshaw and Armstrong who’d done well to fill in at the full back positions in the absence of the suspended Lee Neville and Kyle Jacobs.

United were needing to remain resolute at the back as Bradford searched for a way to reduce FC’s lead, and the home side did manage a consolation with ten minutes to go as Nathan Hotte converted from a corner. However, the lack of Bradford celebration was telling of the fact that the Reds were now out of reach and even had the ball in the net once more before full time through substitute Ben Deegan who was unfortunately ruled offside.

The final score left the travelling support in jubilation as United made an extremely positive start to what could hopefully be a very productive and progressive year for the club. With the play-off places now within touching distance, the squad is looking more than capable of pushing on to secure a place in the top five.

Website Man of the Match: Stephen Johnson – worked the wide positions tirelessly and increasingly looks to be a positive addition to the squad.

Report by Victoria Fullen

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First Posted ~ 10:59 Wed 4 Jan 2012
News ID ~ 3972
Last Updated ~ 10:59 Wed 4 Jan 2012