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FC United slip to home defeat against Stafford - full report

Carlos Roca had a penalty saved as FC United slipped to a 2-1 home defeat against Stafford Rangers at Gigg Lane on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds were 2-0 down at half-time due to some sloppy defending but looked to have found a way back into the game after the break via the penalty spot. However, Roca saw his effort saved and despite Michael Norton getting a goal with 15 minutes to go, it wasn’t enough.

The Reds began the game brightly obviously buoyed on by Monday’s fantastic 5-2 victory in Bradford and looked to pick up where they left off; pressing the opposition back early on and having the lion’s share of possession. However, this possession only amounted to three or four corners, all of which were easily cleared by the Boro’ defence.

The best chance of the early going came when Boro’ ‘keeper Danny Read found himself in no man’s land in his own box after coming to clear a cross from the right from Matthew Wolfenden, but Stephen Johnson couldn’t get his effort on target despite managing to put it over Read’s head with an off balance effort from outside the box.

The deadlock was broken after half an hour but it went completely against the run of the play as Boro’ broke forward and a ball into the box was finished well by Peter Heler to land a sucker punch on United’s chin after their early dominance of the game.

Ten minutes later and things went from bad to worse as Boro’ had a free-kick near the halfway line which found its way into the United box from a deep cross and was nodded pat James Spencer by Ryan Dicker to double the lead for the visitors in a game they had barely been in thus far.

United looked to answer almost immediately as Johnson bombed down the right wing and saw his ball cleared to the edge of the box where Norton fired the ball past Read but saw his effort cleared by the chest of Kevin Street on the goal line to ensure that Boro’ took a two goal lead into the interval.

The second half picked up where the first left off as United again took to the field and tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck, although the clear cut chances were still few and far between.

Anytime Boro’ got the ball or a set piece they understandably looked to add a few seconds on the clock which brought an uneasy and nervous atmosphere from the FC United faithful who were looking for their team to get back into the game sooner rather than later.

The Reds looked like being back in the game when Norton took the ball around Read and looked to have the goal gapping in front of him before being explicitly being hacked down denying the striker a certain goal. United were awarded the penalty but then hit by two blows in quick succession, firstly referee Paul Cook deemed the challenge which denied the goal to only be worthy of a yellow card and then when Roca saw his penalty saved by Danny Reed it looked like this was just going to be one of those bad days at the office when nothing goes right.

Norton soon put the Reds back into the game as a scramble in the box from a corner saw the ball fall to his feet and he fired home to set up a grandstand finish with little over ten minutes left on the clock.

The last ten minutes was real kitchen sink stuff as United threw everything forward in an attempt to grab a well deserved point but the resolute defending from the visitors meant that clear cut chances were still neither here nor there.

Ben Deegan and Matthew Tierney added extra muscle to the Reds attack and corners saw Greg Stones and Adam Jones threaten in the air before Spencer was thrown up for yet another corner in the dying embers.

But it was not to be for the Reds on this afternoon as they had their pockets picked by a team who came with a good game plan and had the rub of the green when it mattered. The result meant United missed the chance to leapfrog Bradford Park Avenue and Marine into a play-off position as the two rivals both dropped points on the road.

United now turn their attention to Chorley in the Doodson Sport Cup on Tuesday evening, before resuming their efforts to break into a play-off position against North Ferriby next Saturday.

Website man of the match: Michael Norton – Bagged his fourth goal in as many games and his never say die attitude was typified when he was the one making the tackles when the visitors were running down the clock by the corner flag late on.

Report by Craig Phillips

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First Posted ~ 10:15 Mon 9 Jan 2012
News ID ~ 3982
Last Updated ~ 10:15 Mon 9 Jan 2012