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Ten man FC United seal late Boxing Day win at Ashton

A stunning solo goal by Aaron Bennett four minutes from fulltime saw FC United seal an impressive and euphoric 2-1 victory at high-flying Ashton United in an action packed Boxing Day encounter. 

The Reds move to within seven points of the Pitching In Northern Premier League play-offs with their third win in four matches. Max Woodcock broke the deadlock three minutes into the second half but Ashton were gifted a way back into the match as striker Jordan Buckley and manager Neil Reynolds were both sent off in controversial circumstances. 

Robins’ midfielder James Hardy looked to have grabbed a draw for the hosts eight minutes from time when he smashed home an equaliser from the edge of the box. However, with Reno watching on from the Sid Sykes Main Stand, Bennett came to the rescue to secure the three points the Reds' performance deserved.

FC United carried the momentum of Saturday’s 2-1 win at home to Stafford into the opening stages of this match, as the Reds looked strong in midfield and creative down both wings straight from kick-off. 

Chances soon fell for Woodcock, who drew a smart save from keeper Luke Simpson, and then from a spritely Charlie Ennis, who had a rasping shot tipped over the bar from an effort at the edge of the area.

At the other end of play, a defensive error from the FC defence allowed Ashton forward Hardy a clear run at goal, with only goalkeeper Pat Boyes to beat. The crowd held their collective breath as Hardy fizzed a low, hard shot to the left hand-side of goal, only for Boyes to spread himself wide and stop the goal-bound effort with his left foot.  

After the restart, FC United began the second half with the same level of intensity as in the first, and with Dontai Gabidon again providing the creative impetus down the right wing, crosses were provided to Bennett, who flashed a good chance narrowly across goal and wide, and Woodcock who pinged an articulate effort into the keeper’s arms. 

A goal for the away side seemed inevitable though and just five minutes into the second half United had their breakthrough, as Gabidon ran artfully with the ball to the byline, cutting a neat pass back to a waiting Woodcock, who sidefooted the ball home from the middle of the penalty area for his team’s opener, triggering a rapturous response from the travelling United supporters in the process.

FC had quickly looked for a second goal, with Woodcock unlucky not to quickly double his tally as he sent a headed effort bouncing off the left hand post. The Reds held strong in defence too, and looked a good bet to repel Ashton’s ambition’s for an equaliser. 

The game’s odds soon looked weighted in the home side’s favour though as United striker Buckley was given his marching orders after receiving a second yellow card for a reckless challenge on Dan Cowan, reducing the Reds to ten men. 

Ashton promptly applied the pressure of having an extra man, and soon had an equaliser through James Hardy. The Robins’ forward pounced on FC’s failure to clear a ball in the centre of the box and punted the ball into the roof of the net.

FC’s tenacious spirit was to turn the game on its head once again however, as Bennett stole the ball in Ashton’s half and under pressure showed real determination to hold onto it, twisting and turning in order to find a sight of goal before burying a thunderous shot into the net on the keeper’s left.

As FC wound the clock down, Reynolds was shown a straight red card for his vociferous reaction to the referee’s decision not to stop play, following a robust looking challenge on Bennett.

FC United’s ten men did just enough to hang onto their win in the last minutes of the game, sealing a real statement victory in the process and continuing their winning streak over the festive season.

Website man of the match: Dontai Gabidon The main creative outlet for much of FC United’s play in the game, Dontai’s performances continue to catch the eye.

Report by Sam Turner

First Posted ~ 20:08 Tue 26 Dec 2023
News ID ~ 9769
Last Updated ~ 22:59 Fri 12 Jan 2024