FC United fought back from 3-0 down with 20 minutes to go against Mossley to claim a 3-3 draw and a replay on Tuesday in the FA Carlsberg Trophy first qualifying round.
A Chris Amadi brace in the 73rd and 78th minutes got the Reds back into the game before Jerome Wright struck a sensational free-kick three minutes before the end to ensure that the two sides must meet again at Mossley in midweek.
United were the second best team for much of the game, and didn’t really offer much until the last twenty minutes when a brace for Chris Amadi and a sensational free kick from Jerome Wright saw United pull off the unlikeliest of comebacks.
As the game got underway the atmosphere in the ground was a little flatter than normal and this transferred to the pitch as United struggled to get to grips with the game and build any momentum in the early going.
In contrast the visitors; buoyed on by some boisterous support themselves, were quick into the challenge (a little late from time to time) and were the first to every ball as they looked to assert themselves in the tie.
The Lilywhites did more than get into the tie when the always dangerous Kayde Coppin used his pace to beat the offside trap and coolly slot past James Spencer to put the visitors a goal up after fifteen minutes.
Usually when this happens the fires start burning for the reds and it gives them the proverbial rocket they needed but today wasn’t such a day as United still looked lethargic in most areas especially the final third where they couldn’t get much going.
They were dealt another blow on the half hour mark as a seemingly well timed tackle by Adam Jones on Gee was adjudged to have been a foul and saw the Lilywhites presented with a great opportunity to double their lead from the spot. Kayde Coppin confidently stepped up and fired past Spence to make it 2-0.
United somehow trudged their way through the next fifteen minutes and made their way into the dressing room at the break knowing the second half had to bring a better performance from them or their participation in this season competition would be brought to a premature halt.
The Reds appeared a few minutes early for the second half with Darren Lyons getting them moving before the Lilywhites had even appeared in an effort to make sure United had woke up for the second half, and as the second half began there were slight signs of improvement with Roca looking the most dangerous man in Red with his trademark jinky runs on the right flank looking the likeliest way of United getting back into the match.
But fifteen minutes into the second half an error on the halfway line saw Coppin break with the ball down the left and cross for Ashley Young who just directed the ball past Spencer to make it 3-0 and almost certainly put The Lilywhites through to the next round.
Again there were signs of slight improvement from United but there certainly wasn’t many predicting a comeback even when Amadi poked home a Roca cross with twenty minutes to go to get United what would surely be no more than a consolation goal.
But seven minutes later there was a few more believers as a ball from Dean Stott inside United’s half was played down route one and flicked on by Amadi’s head just outside the box and brought United back to just 3-2 down.
The United faithful roared the men in red forward at every available opportunity as United began to fight for everything and finally clicked in the middle of the park and United began to look like the team from the division above.
With five minutes left United got a free kick a good 25-30 yards out and it looked like a great opportunity to throw the big men forward in an attempt to get their head to the ball and seal the comeback. Nobody had told Jerome Wright that plan though as he placed the ball down and fired the ball home to ensure a sensational comeback was sealed with a truly sensational goal and you could see how much it meant to Wright as he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate the goal.
The comeback was nearly a little more unreal in stoppage time as Amadi turned on the ball at the edge of the box and fired towards goal, but saw his effort pawed wide to deny him the hat trick.
The two teams do it again on Tuesday at Seel Park with United hoping to put the first 70 minutes behind them and carry on how they ended the game as they look to progress through to the second qualifying round.
Report by Craig Phillips.