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Double winners

FC United completed a dream double by beating Curzon Ashton 2-1 at their Tameside Stadium to lift the D-Zine League Challenge Cup trophy in front of 3,210 fans.

A Nicky Platt penalty and a stunning solo effort from man-of-the-match Josh Howard were enough to clinch victory thanks to a superb second-half display including some sensational saves by Sam Ashton.

In a final featuring the North West Counties’ two best teams, the Reds were forced to dig deep and come back from a goal down against a Curzon outfit who were arguably the stronger side for the first hour.

With Stuart Rudd suspended, United struggled early on to create chances as the home side stifled their opponents on a difficult, sand-ridden surface.

Upfront, Michael Norton’s aerial threat caused United problems and Ashton had to be at his best to stop the Tamesiders’ striker’s powerful low shot from inside the area.

Midfielder Chris Worsley wasted the best opportunity of the first half after making a run from the halfway-line. United hadn’t really got going, possibly due to several questionable off-side decisions, and had rarely troubled Nash ’keeper David Carnell.

In an exhilarating second half, the Reds started brightly. Simon Carden failed to convert two good openings and United’s defence held strong when Platt was forced to leave the field for ten minutes after a nasty collision with the keeper.

Back to full strength the Reds promptly conceded a goal. Given space to run, striker Nick Allen drifted infield before hitting a sweet 25-yard shot low into the corner beyond a helpless Ashton.

Just a minute later and the scores were level. From the restart Howard ran purposefully at the Ashton defence forcing the Curzon left-back into a late challenge in the area.

Patched-up hero Platt ignored the pain to once again calmly place a spot-kick, this to the right of Curzon’s static keeper.

The match was now alive and resembling a true cup final as United pushed forward. Rhodri Giggs forced Curzon’s keeper into an acrobatic save, while Matty Taylor should have scored after some great build-up play from Patterson and Platt.

United were now looking the more likely to go on and win the game and it was Josh Howard who duly delivered with a goal to grace any cup final.

Conjuring up memories of Ricky Villa’s strike in the 1981 FA Cup Final, the Reds’ winger broke free down the left before cutting inside to beat three men and fire-in a wicked right foot strike.

A fitting way to bring down the curtain on a hugely successful second season, United will now be able to parade two trophies when they visit Barrow for Saturday’s final celebratory friendly.

Report by Mark Swanwick.

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

12. G Sampson (7, 87)
14. D Swarbrick
15. D Brown

Goals: Platt 69 (pen), Howard 80

Curzon Ashton
1. D Carnell
2. D Birch (Capt.)
3. S Ball
4. A Watson
5. S Clegg
6. J Ogoo
7. S Moore
8. C Worsley
9. M Norton
10. N Allen
11. W Cahill

12. B Clegg
14. B Blease
15. R Nelson (3, 83)

Goal: Allen 67

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First Posted ~ 10:20 Fri 4 May 2007
News ID ~ 966
Last Updated ~ 12:32 Mon 21 May 2018