|1. Danny Vickers
2. Steve Ellaby
3. Craig Hope
4. Danny Leyland
5. Craig Simmons
6. Jamie Williams
7. Aaron Turner
8. Mike Rhead (capt)
9. Paul Atherton
10. Ryan Cain
11. Martin Hastings
12. Steve Abram (for 6, 57 min)
14. Dean Calloway (for 2, 76 min)
15. Anthony Taylor (for 5, 70 min)
|1 Barrie George
2 Mark Rawlinson
3 Kevin Elvin
4 Steven Spencer
5 David Chadwick (capt)
6 Robert Nugent
7 Ryan Gilligan
8 Simon Carden
9 Jonathan Mitten
10 Steve Torpey
11 Rory Patterson
12 Tony Cullen (for 10)
14 Scott Holt (for 11)
15 Phil Power (for 9)
|Karl Marginson made 3 changes to his starting line-up after the draw versus Winsford in midweek. Barrie George returned in goal, Kev Elvin returned, this time playing in his third different position across the back four, at left back and Ryan Gilligan broke his way into the starting line-up after 2 excellent performances coming off of the bench. Elvin coming in at left back allowed Steve Spencer to step up into midfield, where his presence was missed on Wednesday.
The notable absentee from the United 15 was Adie Orr. The team�€trade;s leading scorer was unavailable due to a knee problem. Nothing too serious but with a long season ahead it did not seem prudent to risk him today. In addition, William Ahearne is still at least a week or two away from returning after straining the medial ligaments in his right knee during the Padiham match. Craig Fleury has resumed football activities after his knee problems caused his substitution during the opening league match at Leek, he may well be in contention in the next week or two. Billy McCartney continues his recovery from the broken arm/dislocated elbow suffered in the Leigh RMI match. Now out of plaster, the centreback will consult with his surgeon shortly and hopes to be fit to resume his very short FC United career in the near future.
Ashton kicked off to start this contest and very nearly shocked the league leaders with an early goal. Only a last ditch intervention from Mark Rawlinson prevented this after less than 2 minutes. A good break down the Ashton right culminated in a low cross in along the 6 yard line. Rawlinson cleared just in time as an attacker bore down on goal. The first United threat came 4 minutes into the match as Patterson latched onto a Mitten flick on before advancing goalwards. His shot was on target but not either sufficiently well placed or powerful enough to beat Vickers, in the home goal, who held the shot well.
The next notable attack was on the quarter hour mark and this time saw Patterson as the provider with a deft flicked header feeding Jos Mitten. The big number 9 looked to be clear but didn�€trade;t quite have the pace to leave the defender behind. He still used his strength to get into a shooting position but his left foot drive was just the wrong side of the near post and into the side-netting.
Two minutes later and Ashton fashioned another glorious chance. A corner was driven in from their left, Paul Atherton, in at the near post, headed the ball on and Danny Leyland stretched to hit a half volley over the bar from only 6 yards out near to the far post, a real let off for the leaders as Barrie George would have struggled to intervene had the attempt been on target.
On 20 minutes Chadwick had the ball in the net but the linesman had flagged for an offside in the build up �€“ the official was later offered a pair of spectacles by a spectator who had been sat in the main stand almost in line with play when the flag was raised. Just before the half hour mark Mitten saw his header from a Rawlinson free kick just evade Rory Patterson at the far post. Another case of Mitten doing excellent work in the air but nothing resulted from his knock down. Chadwick then threatened again just after the half hour. A free kick was cleared to the edge of the area where Steve Spencer managed to feed it through to Chadwick, he shot well, low to the keeper�€trade;s right, but somehow Vickers got down to gather the ball.
The best FC United chance of the half fell to Patterson. Steve Torpey, who had a quiet first half, gathered the ball well on half way before releasing Patterson, the United number 11 did well to power his way through on goal but his touch deserted him at the critical moment allowing Vickers to close and deflect the goal bound shot beyond the far, left post for a corner kick. Torpey floated the corner in and it was just marginally too high for Chadwick who could not quite get enough on his header to steer it goalwards. 0-0 at halftime with United looking marginally the stronger but not secure by any means.
FC United, and Steve Torpey in particular, started the second half much more positively and began to dominate possession. Torpey stabbed at a deflected pass but saw his effort turned behind as it struck a defender near goal. He then took the corner that resulted, the ball broke to Gilligan who shot from 12 yards out but saw the effort blocked. Torpey then won a free kick in a dangerous position as the home number 6, Williams, had no answer to his darting run and had to bring him down in full flow, earning a yellow card from referee Hussain. Gilligan took a quick free kick but put it over the bar.
On 50 minutes the deadlock was broken by the man of the moment, Steve Torpey. The attack looked to have floundered but Ryan Gilligan had other ideas and flew into a 50:50 just inside the home box. The tackle was clean and fair and resulted in the ball rolling invitingly out to Torpey some 25 yards from the centre of goal. The United number 10 strode forward and hit a first time shot with the outside of his left foot that flew into the net leaving Vickers no chance whatsoever. Happily the goal scorer decided on a conventional celebration after his frankly rather dangerous looking attempted acrobatics after his goal against Winsford on Wednesday. 0-1.
Kevin Elvin unluckily worked his way into the referees notebook just before the hour mark after the linesman had flagged for an earlier infringement against the home player; he and Elvin then tussled and Elvin got the card for a bit of shirt tugging. Ashton very nearly worked an equaliser from the resulting free kick. It was taken from just inside the FCUoM half in a central position. Somehow the ball went through and bounced just inside the area before Steve Ellaby prodded it goalwards as Barrie George rushed out. Ellaby�€trade;s lob went over George but also, agonisingly for Ashton Town, also just went over the bar too.
United�€trade;s first change came about on the hour mark as the assistant manager came on to make his league debut with Jos Mitten making way. Power slotted in up front as a direct replacement for Mitten.
On 64 minutes we saw one of the most bizarre goals that we�€trade;ll see all season I�€trade;m sure. A long ball was launched forward from the United backline; both Patterson and Power were retreating back from offside positions as the ball went over their heads near to the corner flag in the Ashton left back position. The linesman put his flag straight up but as the 2 United players continued to walk back towards their own goal, making no attempt to chase down the pass, the referee signalled to play on. Danny Vickers collected the ball and passed it forward towards where he presumed the free kick would be taken. Patterson collected this errant pass and bore down on goal. To his credit Vickers got back into position to defend his goal but the �€�Man with No Name�€trade; easily took the ball around him before sliding it home. It was a great shame for Vickers who had, until that moment, played very well but we all know that at any level of this game one of the cardinal rules is to play to the whistle and he clearly didn�€trade;t on this occasion. 0-2.
On 70 minutes Margi made 2 more substitutions bringing on Tony Cullen and Scott Holt. Torpey and Patterson made way. Both of the newcomers went into midfield with Simon Cardon moving up front alongside Phil Power. The manager�€trade;s assistant showed some great close control and footwork in the area on 74 minutes. He turned in and out trying to get room for a strike before finally laying the ball back to Mark Rawlinson who hit a decent shot but straight to the keeper who held on well. Holt then worked some space on the right before playing in Gilligan who saw his shot partially blocked.
Rob Nugent was then picked out by an in swinging cross from the United right flank by Gilligan. Nugent headed goalwards but again the effort was straight at Vickers who again was relieved to gather. On 81 minutes Phil Power finished off a sweeping United move but again the linesman�€trade;s flag went up to rule it out.
We were then treated to 2 super strikes from Scott Holt. The first resulted from a perfectly timed run by Scott and an equally good through ball from Gilligan. Holt controlled the ball some 5 yards beyond the Ashton backline and carried it forwards before striking a powerful right footed drive past the �€�keeper and into the net for number 3. Three minute later a one-two with Phil Power released Holt again and this time his shot was struck with even more venom than the first. You will go along way to see 2 more emphatic strikes in a match. 0-4.
There was still enough time left for Phil Power to pick up a caution for a little bit of nonsense on halfway and for Tony Cullen to hit a post before the final whistle was blown.
Another very entertaining match with United again failing to score in the first half but coming out after the restart with their shooting boots on. The crowd although perhaps slightly disappointing in number were again good humoured and noisy and all went away happy with 3 more points won. I found it difficult to choose a man of the match for this one as, in my opinion, no-one really stood out over the whole 90 minutes. Torpey and Spencer both had good second halves, Nugent was solid throughout. Patterson worked his socks off as always. In the end, the 2 goals from Scotty Holt just presented the strongest case for me so for me he was the star man.