|1. Gary Williams
2. Mark Armstrong
3. Rick Jordan
4. Nick Maund
5. Iain Hines
6. Chris Naylor
7. David Ashworth
8. Ashley Williams
9. Will Archer (capt)
10. Jon Saxon
11. John McGill
12. Paul Monk (for 2, 67 mins)
14. Darrell Gavin (for 10, 73 mins)
15. Rob Houghton (for 3, 73 mins)
|1 Barrie George
2 Robert Nugent
3 Gareth Ormes
4 Chris Simms
5 Billy McCartney
6 David Chadwick (capt)
7 Joshua Howard
8 William Ahern
9 Simon Band
10 Leon Mike
11 Adie Orr
12 Tony Coyne (for 10)
14 Dave Brown (for 9)
15 Darren Lyons (for 11)
|The eleventh stop on the FC United tour of away grounds in the NWCL Division 2 took us to the home of Chorley FC. Victoria Park offered a decent pitch for the on field activities in a pleasant contrast from the poor playing surface at Gigg Lane in recent months. There had been some doubts about the state of this pitch after another sharp overnight frost had struck but the referee�€trade;s inspection coincided with the emergence of the sun and the consequent rise in temperature removed any remaining question marks.
Manager Marginson made a number of changes. Welcome back to three players who have recovered from injury. Gareth Ormes making his first start since the end of October slotted back into his left back spot. Kev Elvin making way as he struggles with an ankle knock. Club captain David Chadwick finally returned after a broken toe had kept him out of the 5 games since Boxing Day. Dave Brown dropped down to the substitutes bench in making room for Chaddy. The third returnee was Rob Nugent who resumed at right back after sustaining injury in the away match versus Nelson a month ago. Tony Cullen is troubled with a slightly tight calf muscle so he dropped out for this one but hopes to be in contention again in midweek.
Others missing out today were Steve Spencer for a reason unknown to me and Steve Torpey who tweaked his troublesome hamstring again in training last week. Chris Simms made only his second start in replacing Spencer in midfield whilst new boy Simon Band made his debut up front in replacing Torpey. Band impressed in the friendly at Glossop in midweek and hoped to strike up an understanding with Leon Mike.
Daisy Hill were hoping to improve on the 6-0 reversal early in the season on United United day. The early pattern of possession and pressure from United seemed to indicate that a similar scoreline was a very real possibility. The main reason that the scores remained deadlocked at nil apiece for so long was another inspired performance from a goalkeeper against the league leaders. This time the man in form was Gary Williams and he almost single-handedly kept United at bay in the first 44 minutes.
He made a several good saves and more than one stunning stop as the players in red relished the chance to play their usual passing game on a decent surface that did not work against them. The first real threat arose from a United throw-in taken by Gareth Ormes near to the corner flag on the left flank. It looked as though Simon Band was the intended target but the ball went beyond the new number 9 but picked out Leon Mike. Mike controlled instantly before turning outside onto his left foot; his snapshot was wide of the near post from 6 yards out as he failed to wrap his foot around the ball enough to get his drive on target.
On 17 minutes Williams made the first of his �€�real�€trade; saves as he reacted well to a Chadwick header from close range to push it up and over the crossbar. Josh Howard had supplied the ammunition by way of a precise cross from the left flank. Chaddy had stolen in behind the Daisy Hill backline and was in yards of space. The ex-Daisy Hill player stooped to head goalwards but the effort was directed too close to the centre of goal so Williams made a comfortable stop.
A few minutes later and Williams made a save that moved things up another notch from the good category up into the stunning. A United corner kick was cleared out to the edge of the area where Gareth Ormes decided to pull the trigger. The shot, from around 25 yards out, took a deflection from a defender who was attempting to block. This additional distraction was no problem for Williams who parried low to his right. Chris Simms was first to react to the loose ball and coolly maintained possession before picking the perfect pass inside to Josh Howard. United�€trade;s number 7 looked certain to score from a central position only about 10 yards from goal but his sidefoot effort was just too close to Williams who scrambled across his line before clawing the ball back to his chest right on the goal line.
In the 28th minute William Ahern showed good persistence on the right flank before pulling back a cross from the byeline. Adie Orr strode forward and arrived at the ball just as Williams dashed from his line to intervene. Again Williams did a sterling job in smothering the threat and managed to hold the ball as others hoped to pick up the pieces.
We then enjoyed a trio of cameos from Chris Simms who threatened to add to his first FC United goal, the winner in Wednesday evenings friendly at Glossop. Firstly he met a Howard corner kick from the United left. Simms got plenty of power to his near post header but the ball arrowed just the wrong side of the post with Williams, for once, looking beaten.
On 39 minutes Simms struck a United freekick from 25 yards that Williams gathered low near the bottom left corner. Again the keeper did well to hold the ball as Orr and Band were looking for any rebounds. Simms then had the best chance of the afternoon so far as a one-two with Leon Mike opened things up perfectly. Simms took his time before choosing to aim low to the left of Williams but again the ex-Bolton County goalkeeper did enough to keep the shot out.
Just as everyone must have been expecting the game to remain scoreless going into halftime so the football gods dealt Williams a joker rather than the aces that he�€trade;d been holding up to that point. Simms latched onto a defensive header in the 45th minute and fed it into Adie Orr, Adie played a perfectly weighted first time ball inside to Howard who took a couple of touches before driving a right footed shot at goal. Williams looked to have this one well covered, low to his right again, but the ball seemed to take a wicked hop as it bounced just in front of him. The bounce was enough to take the ball beyond his outstretched arms and into the net. 0-1.
As the match resumed after halftime so the balance of possession and pressure remained with United. In the frantic first period Daisy Hill had only managed two shots off target, one through Ashley Williams and another through John McGill. Little changed as they attacked the Duke Street end of the ground in the second period, still Barrie George, in the United goal, was rarely troubled.
Howard seemed to be the main danger man, as far as Daisy Hill were concerned, so the Westhoughton side were sending 2 men onto the United number 7 whenever he got possession. Despite this tight marking Howard might have added to his first half strike within 5 minutes of the restart as he wriggled into a bit of space in the area before firing in with is left foot. Williams reacted well and saved with his legs.
At the other end Ashley Williams found himself in a good position for the home side. A swift break saw him in behind but as he attempted to take the ball around Barrie George he found himself grounded. There were some half-hearted appeals offered in the general direction of the referee Mr. Jones but the portly official from Stockport waved play on.
In the 54th minute Simon Band got into a nice position in the inside right channel but his attempted shot was badly sliced and didn�€trade;t trouble the goalkeeper. A couple of minutes later the second goal did arrive and the game was made safe for the leaders. A United corner kick on the left was initially cleared but Billy McCartney gathered just inside the Daisy Hill half. The ex-Chorley favourite carried the ball forwards for a stride or two before sliding the ball out to Josh Howard. Howard struck his cross first time and the ball in was met by David Chadwick some 7 yards out; Chaddy had to arch his back in order to direct a header to goal. The captain�€trade;s effort was not overly powerful but the positioning of it was such that Williams couldn�€trade;t intervene. 0-2.
Tony Coyne joined the fray on the hour mark with Leon Mike departing. Coyne went into his usual central midfield role with Chris Simms stepping forward from midfield into the front line.
On 65 minutes another United corner was weakly cleared. Adie Orr let fly with a shot that was deflected, the loose ball fell to Band but the debutant lofted his shot over the crossbar from a decent position. That involvement spelled the end of Adie�€trade;s endeavours for the day as he made way for player/coach Darren Lyons. Daz had only been on the pitch for 3 minutes when he completed the scoring with a right-footed drive from nearly 30 yards out. The shot wasn�€trade;t struck with great power but it was well directed to the bottom left hand corner of goal. Williams may have been unsighted or perhaps he slipped but either way he seemed slightly late in getting across his goal and could only watch as the ball trundled into the net. 0-3.
With 15 minutes remaining David Brown came on in place of Band. The centreback, who used to play in midfield in his earlier career, found himself in the unusual position of playing up front. Although he did threaten to score on one occasion, he blazed over with his left foot from 15 yards out, generally speaking I doubt that Patterson, Torpey, Mitten, Mike, Orr etc will be too fearful of being regularly displaced by this part-time striker!
William Ahern required treatment after a Chadwick header on halfway struck the 19 year old in the back of the head from point blank range. Happily, the United number 8 was soon back on his feet and very nearly capped off United�€trade;s best move of the match with his first goal for the team. This move started with a Lyons throw-in to Tony Coyne. Coyne threaded a ball into Howard who flicked the ball inside to Simms who flicked a return pass to Coyne who had made his way across the edge of the area. Coyne evaded a tackle and looked to be about to let loose with a left footed drive when Ahern arrived to take on the shot with is right foot. The shot was well gathered by Williams low to his right under pressure from Chadwick and Brown.
The home �€�keeper was an obvious choice for the overall man of the match but from FC United�€trade;s ranks I rated Josh Howard the best performer on the day. He scored the opener and provided the cross for the second. In addition he might have scored 2 or 3 more himself. Honourable mentions for Gareth Ormes who looked like he�€trade;d never been away, it was another super performance from United�€trade;s number 3. Chris Simms and Will Ahern looked a tidy partnership in central midfield; I can offer no bigger compliment to the pair of them than by saying that Spencer and Carden were barely missed on the day.
(with thanks to FC United supporter Wayne Clark for this match report)