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Opposition Ashton Town
Venue Gigg Lane, Bury
Competition Moore & Co Construction Solicitors sponsored North West Counties Football League Division 2
Date 21-01-2006
Time 15:00
Attendance 3549
2 (1) - 1 (1)
Orr 21
Torpey 73
  Crompton 22
1 Barrie George
2 Tony Cullen Yellow card
3 Kevin Elvin
4 Steven Spencer
5 Billy McCartney
6 Dave Brown (capt)
7 Joshua Howard
8 William Ahern
9 Jonathan Mitten
10 Steve Torpey
11 Adie Orr

12 Tony Coyne (for 4) Yellow card
14 Jonathan Mitten (for 10)
15 Leon Mike (for 9)
1. Danny Vickers
2. Ross McNair
3. Mike Bennett (capt)
4. Steve Abram
5. Danny Leyland
6. Neil Melling
7. Aaron Turner
8. Mike Rhead
9. Phil Howard
10. Martin Hastings
11. Gary Crompton

12. Dean Callaway (for 5, 87 mins)
14. Craig Hope (for 11, 39 mins)
15. Paul Veall (for 4, 69 mins)
Match Report
The Moore & Co. Construction Solicitors North West Counties League Division Two manager of the month for December, our very own Karl Marginson, made a couple of changes as the leaders played host to Ashton Town. Rob Nugent was missing as a result of the foot injury sustained last weekend, Tony Cullen returned at right-back making his first start since November. In addition, William Ahern came in to replace Chris Simms in the number 8 shirt. It was again heartening to see the walking wounded in attendance at Gigg Lane continuing their respective rehabilitations. David Chadwick ought to be back next weekend at Great Harwood. Gareth Ormes is probably ready to return when selected and Simon Carden was running quite freely so probably isn�€trade;t more than a week or two away from contention.

The playing surface at �€�Le Stade�€trade; was not looking in the best of condition and was showing worrying signs of cutting up even in the warm-up. The recent cold spell followed by plenty of rain has left the pitch in a poor state, I�€trade;m sure that Bury�€trade;s hard working ground staff are eagerly awaiting the arrival of springtime when they can begin to get the ground back to a healthier state.

United kicked off attacking the Cemetery End which was decked out in supporter�€trade;s banners. Ashton probably had the better of the initial exchanges and looked dangerous at times. As early as the first minute Phil Howard crossed in from the Ashton left. The cross was too near to Barrie George but did bounce just in front of the United �€�keeper forcing him to pay total attention as he safely gathered. Dave Brown was being kept busy as a series of Ashton crosses picked out the United skipper. Eventually Brown headed one of these crosses behind at the cost of the first corner kick of the contest. Ashton took a quick, short corner and then delivered an in swinging cross from the right side that looked very inviting. The 2 attackers at the far post looked to have been afforded a lot of time and space but the final header could only be directed over the bar from less than 10 yards out.

On 5 minutes United mounted their first meaningful attack. Cullen played a nice ball onto Adie Orr who, in turn, passed on to Howard. The United right winger briefly lost possession but regained it near the by-line, right of goal. Howard delivered a hopeful back heel that picked out Joz Mitten who shot from about 15 yards out. Danny Vickers dived and held the low shot down to his right.

In the 10th minute Ashton again threatened to open the scoring and again it was a cross from the Ashton right that nearly proved the undoing of the United defence. This out swinging cross was met by Phil Howard on the volley but he directed his shot just off target from 12 yards out. Moments later and an Adie Orr and William Ahern combination released Orr on the United right. Orr dragged his shot beyond the far post with Vickers beaten.

On 13 minutes Steve Torpey struck a freekick on target but Vickers was equal to the 25 yarder and pushed it around the post. Adie Orr embarrassed Ashton�€trade;s number 4 Steve Abram with a slick turn a few moments later. Abram was left with few alternatives and chose to pull Adie back and accepted the inevitable yellow card with no complaint.

The opening goal came in the 21st minute and was scored by Orr. The move originated as Steve Spencer hooked a first time ball from near halfway up the right flank. It looked as though the ball would beat Josh Howard to the by-line but the combination of the slow boggy pitch and the speed of Howard insured that it stayed in play. Josh was in acres of space and had time to survey the arriving support in the centre before delivering a precise, low and powerful cross that Adie turned beyond Vickers from very close range. The goal represented Adie�€trade;s 14th in the league and 17th overall this season. One more goal will see the former Manchester City trainee join Simon Carden at the top of FC United�€trade;s goal scoring charts in this inaugural season. 1-0.

Vickers received treatment after the goal but was fit to resume soon enough and he will have been delighted to have seen the response from his team-mates to having gone a goal down. Again the attack was mounted from the Ashton right flank; there was a small element of good fortune as a high ball skimmed the head of a United defender before landing at the feet of Mike Rhead. Rhead for his part did well to shield the ball, with his back to goal, before laying off to Gary Crompton who was supporting from the left side. Crompton made no mistake as he lashed the ball high into the net from 10 yards out. 1-1.

Ashton�€trade;s goal scorer did not last much longer though. He was replaced by Craig Hope less than 10 minutes after registering the equaliser. United continued to press to regain the lead and wasted a couple of very good opportunities as the half drew on. Orr had another shot blocked after great work from Howard before a Spencer cross was headed beyond the far post by McCartney from close range.

In the 37th minute Ashton very nearly took a surprise lead through Martin Hastings. United looked to have weathered another Ashton attack but Tony Cullen played the ball inside to Spencer who was surrounded by sky blue-shirted marauders. Spencer tried to play his way out of trouble but was tackled with the ball then falling to Hastings. The Ashton number 10 struck a powerful right-footed drive towards the top right of goal from 22 yards. Opinions differ as to whether Barrie George helped the shot up onto the bar or whether it made it�€trade;s way there directly. My vantage point from the back of the Main Stand (we are louder than you, by the way) suggested no intervention but I�€trade;ve heard from others with a better view who insist that Barrie did get his fingertips to the shot. If that is the case then it was a super save. Either way it was a great shot from Hastings and might so easily have transformed the contest had it gone in.

Ashton had one more opportunity which arrived after a poor pass from McCartney. Ashton were in a great 3 on 2 break but were not direct enough. Plenty of cover arrived before Neil Melling shot over the bar and the chance was lost. At the other end United�€trade;s final chance of the half fell to Torpey who received a pass from Spencer. The Wiganer cut inside onto his right foot but saw his shot from just inside of the area go over the crossbar.

Margy chose to freshen things up at the interval with Leon Mike coming on to replace Joz Mitten. Both sides pressed for another goal but United mostly seemed to have the edge and created the better opportunities. Danny Vickers was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers.

Aaron Turner could not test George as he shot wide from 22 yards. Then Vickers was called into action at the other end as Dave Brown headed a Torpey corner, from the left side, goalwards. Brown did well to direct his header on target as the ball in was slightly behind him. He had to lean back but still got decent power as he directed the effort to the right of Vickers from 8 yards out. The Ashton stopper reacted quickly and managed to knock down the United captain�€trade;s attempt. On its own this was a very good save but the fact that he then pounced on the loose ball made the save even more special.

Soon after the hour mark Vickers managed to exceed even this save with a top drawer double save from Torpey and then Mike. Josh Howard took a free-kick short to Torpey who hit a left footed drive from 25 yards that Vickers saved low to his left. The rebound from this save came straight out to Leon Mike who hit a powerful right-footed drive first time that looked certain to bulge the net. Somehow Vickers recovered from the first save to dive in the other side direction and block again. The rebound went away to safety and many in the ground could have been excused for wondering if it was going to be �€�one of those days�€trade; with Vickers repelling all-comers. Moments later and Steve Spencer went off with a groin strain. Tony Coyne slotted into the holding midfield role.

On 72 minutes Ashton spurned a good chance as Hastings shot weakly straight at Barrie George. The United �€�keeper launched the ball downfield where it was picked up by Howard. Josh played the ball into the danger area where a bit of a scramble ensued. For a moment it looked as though a chance would fall to Adie Orr but his effort was blocked at source but the loose ball fell to Steve Torpey. Torpey rode 2 tackles before being faced with Vickers. Torpey was incredibly composed as he held the ball until Vickers was committed before stabbing home from 6 yards out. 2-1.

Within 2 minutes of taking the lead United created a golden chance to make the game safe. This resulted from another super run from Josh Howard where he again beat his man before squaring the ball to Mike. Leon spotted the chance and threaded a delicate ball through for Tony Coyne to run onto. Again Vickers excelled, alert to the threat he dashed out and saved with his legs as TC fired low to his left.

One last throw of the dice very nearly earned a point for the visitors. Hastings was again the danger man as he won a 50:50 challenge at the edge of the United area before carrying the ball forwards. The angle was slightly against the Ashton man as he was right of goal; his shot beat George but rolled agonisingly beyond the left hand post. Both sides finished the match with only 10 men as one of the Ashton lads and William Ahern cracked heads near halfway. Mr. McKnight, the referee with the weakest whistle I�€trade;ve (n)ever heard, immediately stopped play as both physios attended to bloodied combatants. Ahern, for his part needed 9 staples in his wound and will probably miss the Great Harwood match.

Official match sponsors Northern Care awarded their man of the match plaudits to Adie Orr. Adie had another good afternoon, tireless running from start to finish and a well taken goal but, for me, William Ahern was the outstanding performer on the day. He helped link everything up between the defence and attack and seemed to dovetail very well with Steve Spencer. A shame for the youngster that he�€trade;ll likely not get the chance to cement his place in the side at Accrington next weekend in the Great Harwood match.
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