|1 Barrie George
2 Robert Nugent
3 Kevin Elvin
4 Steven Spencer
5 David Chadwick (capt)
6 Dave Brown
7 Joshua Howard
8 Simon Carden
9 Jonathan Mitten
10 Steve Torpey
11 Adie Orr
12 Rory Patterson (for 11)
14 Paul Mitten (for 5)
15 Tony Coyne (for 4)
|1. Mark Canning
2. Graham Hicks
3. Tom McKenna
4. Paul Leonard
5. Andrew Entwistle
6. Mark Slater
7. James Gilbert
8. Adam Young
9. Brad Barrington
10. Mark Bartholomew
11. Matthew Russell
12. Marcus Smith
14. Denny Khan
15. Mark O'Brien
|Lowly Gabriels arrived at Gigg Lane firmly bottom of the league table. They have accrued a solitary point from their efforts so far after they drew at Daisy Hill but their single point, plus the next 3 that they gain, have already been snatched away by league officials after a rules contravention earlier in the season. So the table showed Castleton with -3 points and FC United with 36 points before this match.
United had already beaten Gabriels 3-0 at Radcliffe in September and on that occasion there was no great gulf in class between the two sides although player/manager Mark Canning was the man of the match in the home goal.
Player awards were presented before kick off with Rory Patterson picking up his jesters hat award for his tremendous shot wide of a gaping goal in the New Mills match at home and Steve Torpey picked up the player of the month trophy for his consistently strong performances of late.
Seemingly due to some problems with an overwrought mascot the United lads were late out of the tunnel so the Gabriels�€trade; players chose to turn right on exiting the tunnel and took up residence in front of the Manchester Road End. Happily normal order was resumed after the coin toss as the sides swapped ends before the visitors started the match attacking the MRE.
Before leaving the visiting changing room Mark Canning probably had told his players to keep things tight for the first 15 minutes and then perhaps look to pick up any chances that come along. The message might have finished with a line like, �€�If we can soak it up for a while they might lose heart and the longer that it stays goalless then anything might happen.�€trade;
A new script was required as soon as 30 seconds into the game as Simon Carden scored the opener. Rob Nugent appeared to be aiming a pass for Joz Mitten but it turned out to be perfect for Carden who drove his shot beyond Canning from the edge of the area. 1-0.
United threatened to extend their lead before Gabriels managed a brief attack themselves. Joz Mitten hit an early left footed shot from 25 yards but it flew over the bar, Mitten then knocked a Nugent throw down for Orr but Adie dragged his shot wide of the target. In the 12th minute Castleton attacked through Matthew Russell down the left wing, his cross was well positioned but Nugent made up a lot of ground to head clear with Mike Bartholomew providing the pressure.
In the 17th minute Carden turned provider as he picked out Josh Howard�€trade;s perfectly timed run with a perfectly placed pass. Howard had gotten in behind the backline and made no mistake with his shot that struck Canning on its way into the net. 2-0.
Mitten and Orr then both missed chances, Mitten with another shot from distance and Orr with a one-on-one that he put wide from an acute angle. Josh Howard then returned the compliment to Carden by providing him with a chance to score his second. Howard picked the ball up some 10 yards inside United�€trade;s half before driving forward. The United number 7 beat a couple of men for speed and evaded another couple of tackles before laying the ball off for Carden to side-foot home from 10 yards out. 3-0.
Castleton, to their credit, never stopped trying to play football. There was never any danger of them resorting to the �€�hoof and run�€trade; that we have seen on a few occasions this season. They were perhaps naïve in their approach at times but they never let their heads drop and they consistently looked to build attacks when they won possession. At times they over-committed men forward thus leaving gaps for the United attackers to exploit but that strategy did lead to them scoring their 11th and 12th goals of the season.
Number 11 on the season was credited to number 11, Matthew Russell. Russell saw his right footed shot enter the net via the right hand post after a team-mate�€trade;s shot had been blocked with the rebound falling perfectly for the wideman. Russell�€trade;s celebration was worth the price of admission on its own and was fitting considering the fact that his goal was not only Castleton�€trade;s 11th of the season but also their 900th in league competition. Having seen the ball nestling in the net Russell peeled away to the deserted South Stand, hurdled the advertising hoardings and chose a front row seat from which to politely applaud the fine goal that he had just �€�witnessed.�€trade; 3-1.
Just after the half-hour point Bartholomew headed a Hicks cross straight to Barrie George and then at the other end the prolific Carden headed a Nugent cross over the bar from only 8 yards out much to the surprise of most present who would have fully expected the net to bulge. Perhaps Carden thought that a routine header from 8 yards was not a worthy way to complete his hat-trick?
Moments later and Adie Orr scored a stunning, far from routine, goal. Kev Elvin played the ball forward picking out Mitten who flicked his header on. Orr had been running from a central position towards the right corner flag but Joz�€trade;s flick was back towards the centre so Orr curved his run. This action saw Orr gain a yard from his marker. With the defender trying to make up ground Adie looked up and saw Canning advancing to narrow the angle. Still 25 yards from goal Adie nonchalantly struck a delicate lobbed volley with the outside of his right foot that left Canning completely helpless. 4-1.
As had been the case with the 2nd and 3rd goals where Howard and Carden combined to score and provide one each, so it was with the 5th and 6th goals too. This time Carden�€trade;s partner was Steve Torpey. In the 37th minute Carden played his role as provider, and Torpey was the beneficiary. Torpey received the ball and wriggled away from the covering defenders before allowing Canning to go to ground before calmly firing home. 5-1.
Torpey then gained an inadvertent assist as his freekick, from the right edge of the area, cannoned back from the join between the crossbar and the right hand post. Carden was on hand to finish with more than a little aplomb. A spectacular bicycle kick returned to goal from 10 yards out leaving the goalkeeper and a covering defender unable to do anything to repel his precise shot. This effort sealed Carden�€trade;s hattrick, his second and, United�€trade;s third in just four matches. 6-1.
The second half started with little change in the balance of play with the league leaders continuing to press forwards at every opportunity. Dave Brown nearly took advantage of a ball breaking well for him after he won a 50:50 tackle. The former Castleton player saw space opening up ahead of him so marched forwards. He let loose with a rasping right foot shot from 30 yards that was marginally too high but surely stung the hands of whoever stopped its progress a few rows back in the Manchester Road End crowd.
With 5 minutes played in the second period both managers elected to shuffle their packs. Both sides used their full complement of substitutes without further ado. Steve Spencer, Chaddy and Adie made way for Patterson, Paul Mitten and Tony Coyne. Torpey took the armband from David Chadwick but obviously wasn�€trade;t happy with the colour clash with his leopard-print thong so he passed it (the armband!!) to Dave Brown.
Castleton seemed to adjust more quickly to their change of personnel and had a good spell during which they forced a corner and left-back McKenna forced a save from Barrie George with a shot that bounced just in front of the United keeper. The good period for the visitors was relatively short-lived as Joz Mitten soon scored the first goal of the second half. Joz turned well at the edge of the area before driving in his shot. Canning was unfortunate as it looked as though he�€trade;d done enough to keep the shot out but it trickled in by way of the left-hand post. 7-1.
In the 69th minute Joz Mitten looked to have got his second goal after a great ball in from his cousin Paul. Joz took the ball around Canning but then saw his left-foot shot scrape past the right post with Carden agonisingly not quite close enough to turn the ball in. Two minutes later and Castleton substitute Smith brought a good save from George after a neat cross from McKenna. The resulting corner was cleared by United and set Patterson away on a break down the left wing. Rory cut back inside but his right-footed shot went just the wrong side of the far-post with Canning again unable to intervene.
In the 73rd minute Carden scored again, this another well judged chip from the edge of the box, with Tony Coyne having been instrumental in the build up. The finish was reminiscent of Carden�€trade;s second versus New Mills at Gigg Lane a few weeks earlier. 8-1.
Now, with 15 minutes to go, Castleton registered their 901st league goal. The 12th on the season was scored by Marcus Smith wearing the number 12 shirt, spooky! This one resulted from a cross in from the Gabriels�€trade; right which Smith controlled well before calmly firing in from a central position 12 yards from goal. Epitomising Gabriels�€trade; spirit the scorer immediately ran to the net to retrieve the ball and rush it back to the centre-spot ready for a quick restart, never say die. 8-2.
Within a minute of the restart Torpey was played in by Patterson, the United number 10 shot with his less-favoured right foot against the right hand post. Coyne then saw another effort superbly tipped aside by Canning after good work from Carden. The resulting corner kick was delayed as Joz and Mark Slater were having a little exchange of views. Referee Parker sensibly calmed them down before allowing Torpey to send in the corner kick. Joz used his strength to hold his position some 4 yards out in line with the near, right-hand, post. Slater tried to lever the big United number 9 off of the ball but Joz wanted this one and nodded home with a glancing header low to Canning�€trade;s right. 9-2.
The final goal of the afternoon fittingly went to Carden and was similar to the ninth. Another Torpey cross from the right flank, another glancing header into the bottom left corner from relatively close range. 10-2.
Just as the game seemed to be quietly heading to a close things took a slightly surreal turn in the 87th minute. 5 goal hero Simon Carden suddenly found himself surrounded by angry Castleton players after an ill-judged attempt to win a 50-50 with the visiting goalkeeper. Carden is a wholehearted player without doubt, he�€trade;s a winner and sometimes winners don�€trade;t know when to quit. Simon�€trade;s challenge was not deemed to be a foul by the referee which probably further incensed the Gabriels lads. Whether it was wholly necessary for Simon to contest a 50:50 ball with the visiting goalkeeper in the 87th minute of a match being led by 10 goals to 2, I�€trade;m not certain.
To his credit Canning made no fuss himself but several of his team-mates were clearly aggrieved. As Carden was being manhandled so arrived Joz to restore order, or at least to balance out the numbers a bit. A little pushing and shoving ensued and Mr. Parker along with his assistant, despite having seen nothing in the previous 86 minutes to warrant even a caution, deemed this �€�kafuffle�€trade; worthy of red cards to both lads.
Match sponsors dalemillhomefragrance chose Carden as their man of the match. They will get no argument from me over that choice. The whole side played well, there were no passengers as United took their goal scoring tally to 24 in 4 matches. Carden now tops the individual scoring charts on 15, one ahead of Adie Orr.