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Reds snatch five goal thriller

FC United came from behind twice to clinch a 3-2 victory in a pulsating contest against title rivals Curzon Ashton thanks to two goals from substitute Gary Sampson and a winner from Stuart Rudd.

Alex Mortimer even had a penalty saved for the Reds in the last minute during a night of high drama at Gigg Lane in front of 2,493 vociferous supporters, but thankfully it did not prove costly for United as they held on to take a massive step towards the North West Counties Division One title.

Margy’s men were pushed all the way by a strong and skilful Curzon side, who will undoubtedly have felt unlucky to head back to Tameside without a share of the spoils, especially as they were twice in the driving seat.

The Blues’ goal machine Steven Moore broke the deadlock for the visitors with no more than six minutes on the clock when he got on the end of a freekick from the right hand side. He left Sam Ashton with no chance as he notched up an incredible 40th goal of the season.

United immediately came forward in search of an equaliser with Dave Swarbrick and Jerome Wright, who was making his home debut, enjoying a lot of the ball. But possession was too often wasted and the Reds failed to test the ‘keeper properly for the duration of the first half.

On 15 minutes Simon Carden had to be withdrawn with what looked to be a thigh or knee injury sustained a few minutes earlier when the Curzon defence denied him from negotiating a shooting opportunity inside the box.

It proved to be a vital turning point in the match because it was the goal scoring hero Sampson who came on as a like for like replacement for Carden in the centre of midfield.

However, it was a while before the super sub made his mark as Curzon continued to frustrate United by only allowing them a series of half chances proving exactly why they were unbeaten in all competitions since October.

The best chance of the first period fell to the lively Swarbrick but he could only blaze the ball high and wide after it took a wicked bobble off the patchy playing surface.

Half time came and the men in red were struggling to find their best form, but they got the second half off to the perfect start when Curzon failed to clear a corner properly and Sampson rifled the ball home from the edge of the area into the bottom left corner.

As soon as United grabbed the equaliser the game became increasingly open and it was real end to end stuff. Curzon always looked threatening on the break and not long after Sampson’s goal there was an impromptu game of pinball in the United penalty area as David Chadwick, Rob Nugent and then Ashton had to throw themselves in the way of the ball to deny the visitors.

Soon after it was Rory Patterson’s chance to go close. On the hour, the somewhat unsung hero of FC United, Steve Spencer volleyed a lovely diagonal through ball to Patterson who was unlucky to see his first time effort hit the post and go out for a dead ball.

Literally seconds later United were caught napping at the back as Moore made a fantastic run to completely dissect the defence and race clear to the left of the 18 yard box. Ashton came rushing out to close down the angle, but the North West Counties’ top scorer demonstrated his class by calmly finding the back of the net with a delicate chip.

Not to be perturbed though, United kept on coming forward and no more than five minutes later Sampson struck again when he played a one-two with Patterson before executing a stunning sliding volley into the same corner as his first.

Curzon began searching for a third, but Chadwick was beginning to stamp his authority on things at the back and United were keeping possession much better than they had done in the first half.

With 15 minutes to go, Patterson picked up the ball on the right hand side and moved across field on one of his trademark jinking runs before unleashing a left footed strike which was low and hard. Curzon’s ‘keeper made a good save but he could only parry it into the path of the on rushing Rudd who smashed the ball high into the net.

Gigg Lane erupted as the FC faithful sensed victory, but the action was not over. There was still time for Patterson to win a penalty after he tirelessly chased onto a Josh Howard through ball before skipping into the box where he was hacked down.

Mortimer could not put the result beyond doubt from the spot and a couple of nervy minutes ensued. But it did not matter as the Reds held strong to secure a priceless victory against one of their biggest challengers for the title.

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First Posted ~ 10:04 Thu 22 Feb 2007
News ID ~ 856
Last Updated ~ 17:51 Fri 11 Oct 2013