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Champions!

FC United were crowned champions of North West Counties Division One after a wonderful team display saw them demolish Atherton Laburnum Rovers 7-1 in front of 2,249 supporters at Gigg Lane.

The Reds clinched back-to-back titles and took their first step towards a possible league and cup double in style by putting seven past the visitors, with seven different names on the score sheet.

Goals came courtesy of Rhodri Giggs, an own goal, Dave Brown, a Nicky Platt penalty, Rob Nugent, David Chadwick and Stuart Rudd as Margy’s men saw off Rovers in emphatic style.

With striker Rory Patterson suspended, Margy put his faith in Giggs to partner Rudd up front and the winger-cum-striker didn’t let him down @ breaking the deadlock after just nine minutes. The Welshman started and finished a great flowing move. After feeding Jerome Wright, he was on hand to finish a perfect return cross from inside the area.

A minute later and Atherton pulled the scores level. Starman Ian Berry drifted down the right and as the United defence backed-off the striker struck a low shot that flew past Ashton into the bottom left corner.

The visitors’ exuberant celebrations were short lived as the Reds were soon back in the lead. Wright’s in-swinging corner took an almighty deflection off Darren Kinsey for an unfortunate own-goal by the visitors, although in-keeping with previous own goals this season Wright will be sure to get the credit.

With 20 minutes gone the Reds extended their lead. As the Atherton defence held their line veteran defender Brown was invited to drive forward, and the stand-in skipper hit a screamer from 35 yards.

The visitors came close to pulling one back after David Derefaka hit the bar with a long-range header. But it was United who scored again just before the break. Top scorer Rudd won a penalty after jostling with the Atherton centreback, and Platt calmly sent the ‘keeper the wrong way and slotted home the spot kick to make it 4-1.

In a night of celebrations, half-time saw a richly deserved lap of honour by United’s Reserve Team after Tony Cullen’s youngsters were crowned champions of their league in their first season last weekend. The lads were able to soak up the electric atmosphere which many of them will be hoping to experience as a first team player in the coming years.

Rovers had a good chance to pull one back and keep the game alive when Rick Arnold headed a good chance wide, but the Reds put pay to the visitors’ faint hopes on 66 minutes.

Rob Nugent popped up from the back to poke home the fifth from close range grabbing an incredible tenth goal of the season. The 24 year-old defender then smashed the ball goalwards right on to the head of substitute David Chadwick who duly obliged by turning the ball home from close range to make it 6-1.

And in the closing seconds, Rudd finally bagged a goal by hammering home from close range after the ‘keeper had only been able to parry a fierce 20 yard drive from Platt. The goal firmly keeps the Wiganer in the hunt for 50 for the season and kick-started the champions’ party.

The victory stretched the club’s record unbeaten run to 22 games and United will be looking to extend this to the end of the season with three games left in the league before taking on their former title rivals Curzon Ashton in the D-Zine League Challenge Cup Final at the Tameside Stadium on Thursday 3rd May.

Manager Karl Marginson was obviously delighted with his and the team’s second title in two years. He said: "For us to win the championship on our own patch is a dream come true. It was an all-round fantastic team effort, which it has been all year."

But as ever, Margy was not getting carried away. He added: "We’ve got three games left in the league now starting with Salford on Saturday and we have a duty to the rest of the teams in the league to not take our foot off the pedal. We need to keep this momentum going."

Report by Mark Swanwick

Match information:

FC United
1. S Ashton
2. M Taylor
3. A Mortimer
4. N Platt
5. D Brown (Capt.)
6. R Nugent
7. J Howard
8. S Carden
9. S Rudd
10. J Wright
11. R Giggs

Subs
12. D Chadwick (5, 46)
14. S Spencer (10, 58)
15. P Power (8, 71)

Goals: Giggs 9, Own Goal 18, Brown 22, Platt 42, Nugent 66, Chadwick 74, Rudd 90

Atherton LR
1. C Clare
2. R Newell
3. D Kinsey
4. D Derefaka
5. G Williams
6. D Norman
7. S Wellstead
8. R Hope (Capt.)
9. C Bermingham
10. R Arnold
11. I Berry

Subs
12.O Babbington (11, 70)
14. K Coppin (3, 58)
15. J Norman (10, 82)

Goal: Berry 10

Attendance: 2,249


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First Posted ~ 10:13 Thu 19 Apr 2007
News ID ~ 944
Last Updated ~ 13:41 Mon 21 May 2018