|1 Barrie George
2 Mark Rawlinson
3 Kevin Elvin
4 Steven Spencer
5 David Chadwick (capt)
6 Robert Nugent
7 Adie Orr
8 Ryan Gilligan
9 Jonathan Mitten
10 Steve Torpey
11 Rory Patterson
12 Tony Cullen (for 8)
14 Tony Coyne (for 9)
15 Phil Power (for 7)
|1. Andy Speight
2. Stuart Booth
3. Gordon Thompson
4. Mark Moretti (capt)
5. Kevan Ford
6. Phil Thompson
7. Eddie Rochester
8. Paul Paynter
9. Chris Wilding
10, John Hough
11. Anthony Pearson
12. John Moffatt (for 3, 74 mins)
14. Jon Simmons (for 6, 81 mins)
15. Anthony Gill (for 10, 81 mins)
|Whilst nearly 68,000 souls made their way to Old Trafford to watch what was, by all accounts, a pretty dire derby match, 2,226 made the journey to Gigg Lane to witness the next chapter in FC United of Manchester�€trade;s short history being written. In keeping with the desire of the club to be accessible to the local community and to encourage youngsters to attend matches the visit of Blackpool Mechanics saw all under-18s admitted for free. A great idea which was well supported.
Karl Marginson only made one change to his starting line-up for this match. Simon Cardon dropped out allowing the fit again Adie Orr to start in the 7 shirt. Cardon�€trade;s absence was for the best possible reasons as he has recently become a father and was on �€�paternity leave.�€trade;
The match started, with United kicking off, after a minutes silence in memory of Noel Cantwell who died this week after a long illness. The home side dominated the early stages with plenty of good possession but little by way of a clear cut opportunity. On 12 minutes a good break down the United left saw Rory Patterson work his way behind the Mechanics right-back, the �€�man with no name�€trade; was moving goalwards but the angle was against him and the threat was averted as cover arrived.
On 19 minutes a little bit of a defensive misunderstanding nearly left Barrie George embarrassed. David Chadwick was under pressure with the ball at his feet and being forced back towards his own goal. He elected to pass back to his keeper but there was little space between them so the strength of the pass was critical. To my mind the United captain slightly under hit the back pass meaning the Barrie George had to come further forward before attempting to kick clear. His clearance struck either Chaddy or the Blackpool Mechanics attacker or possibly both before ricocheting back to the keeper. George stuck out his left arm and then gratefully gathered the ball in both hands.
On 21 minutes Adie Orr cut in from the right flank but just overran the ball. In typical �€�never say die�€trade; fashion Orr continued his chase and lunged into a tackle as the defender was about to clear. The resulting miscue fell handily to Spencer who shot just wide of the right hand post. The Blackpool �€�keeper may have got fingertips to the effort but it was all for nought anyway as the referee had adjudged the challenge from Orr as a foul.
It was looking as though a goal was bound to come soon as United continued to threaten. Another nice bit of interplay between Torpey and Patterson was finished with Torpey seeing his low drive repelled but the respite was only temporary as the first goal did then arrive soon after. Kevin Elvin took a freekick from halfway, both Mitten and Patterson timed their runs perfectly to steal in behind the backline. Jos managed to lay the ball back into Patterson�€trade;s path with a single touch. The invitation was voraciously accepted by the Irishman who calmly stroked the ball under the advancing Speight in the Blackpool goal. 1-0.
Around the half-hour mark and the 2 United centre-backs were involved, at either end, in goal threats. Firstly Nugent saw a Torpey corner find its way across the 6 yard box. The Jaap Stam look-alike was seemingly surprised as the ball struck him about the midriff and went harmlessly behind for a goal kick with the goal beckoning. Within a minute David Chadwick was called into action at the other end to superbly get his head in as a dangerous cross came in from the Blackpool right. The United captain performed very well in this game and now seems to be living up to the Steve Bruce tag pinned onto him by the manager when he was signed to the club.
The visitors probably had had the best of things since the United goal and might consider themselves unlucky not to have fashioned an equaliser. On 36 minutes another cross from the Blackpool right was headed past the far post by Anthony Pearson as he threw himself headlong at the ball some 15 yards out from goal. A couple of minutes later and there was a very optimistic penalty shout from the visitors as some incidental contact in the area saw one of the blue shirted attackers down on the turf. The referee, Mr. Brannick, was unimpressed.
The second goal arrived, in spectacular fashion, on 40 minutes. A quick FCUoM break down the left flank saw Steve Torpey play an early, square ball inside to Mitten. The big number 9 controlled the ball well and then turned outside onto his left foot before firing his shot, from just outside of the area, goalwards towards the bottom right corner. Somehow Speight managed to turn this effort behind but he was soon picking the ball out of his net.
Torpey took the resulting corner which was initially cleared but this clearance fell to Steve Spencer some 35 yards from goal. Spencer took one touch before firing an unstoppable right footed volley into the top left hand corner of the net with Andy Speight completely unmoved. 2-0.
The league leaders threatened to further increase their lead on 42 minutes as Barrie George caught a Mechanics corner kick and immediately initiated the counter-attack with a quick throw out to Adie Orr on the right wing. Adie beat a man and made a large amount of ground before playing a cross field pass to Steve Torpey galloping forward in support. The Wiganer brought the ball under control and took it into the area but saw his shot pass on the wrong side of the far post.
The last action of the half almost saw Phil Thompson claw one back for Blackpool. He found himself on the end of a Rochester freekick but could not keep his header down from a position just beyond the left post and only a few yards out. He was clearly disappointed not to have worked the United �€�keeper with his wayward effort.
The second half started at an even more frantic pace than the first with both sides taking turns to press for more goals. Ryan Gilligan saw a corner kick cleared to him just inside the area, his volleyed effort was well pushed aside by Speight. One minute later and Blackpool attacked down their right, the right-back Booth got in behind the United defence. Booth found Wilding who carried the ball forward but could not beat George with a powerful drive from only 10 yards out from quite a tight angle. Barrie George instinctively pushed the ball beyond the far post at the expense of a Blackpool Mechanics corner-kick.
In the next minute Steve Torpey went on a penetrating run. He beat 3 defenders on his journey from 15 yards inside his own half to the edge of the Mechanics box but his left foot shot was scuffed. Speight seemed to be slightly out of position but just managed to scramble along his line to divert the weak shot behind. From the ensuing corner-kick United further extended their lead. Torpey took the kick from the United right side with his trusty left foot. The flight of the ball seemed to deceive Speight as he tried to claim it but got only the slightest touch before seeing the ball arrive to Rob Nugent only a yard or so from the goal-line just beyond the farpost. Nugent did very well to direct his header perfectly and so to score his second goal of the season. 51 minutes gone, 3-0.
FC United appeared to be cruising to a comfortable victory but the Seasiders had other ideas. They called Barrie George into action on several occasions and the former Radcliffe stopper was equal to all that they had offered until the 58th minute. Nugent looked to have a good opportunity to clear the United lines but his clearance was weakly struck and straight to Phil Thompson. The Blackpool number 6 struck first time from 25 yards and saw his shot curling away from George and inside of the left hand post. 3-1.
Two minutes later and a moment of controversy, the rejuvenated Blackpool side pressed forward again. Rochester cut in from the right before attempting to release Wilding. The Mechanics number 9 was well marked by Chadwick and as they turned for the attempted pass Wilding appeared to catch Chadwick who looked in pole position to reach the ball first. The trip sent Chadwick to the floor and left the route clear for Wilding who shot well but George made another stunning save, this time high to his right. The United captain was adamant that he had been fouled but Mr. Brannick was having none of it; the fussy official from Oldham eventually deemed Chadwick�€trade;s protests too long and too loud so showed the first yellow card of the afternoon.
The Blackpool comeback was further energised as Thompson scored another nice goal on 64 minutes. This time he beat the imperious George with a beautifully executed chip from the edge of the box. Thompson received the ball in a bit of space and George had to advance from his line to narrow the angle. The Blackpool number 6 coolly lifted the ball over Barrie and into the net. 3-2.
Blackpool must have been thinking that an improbable comeback was within reach but they failed to hold the single goal deficit for long enough to ensure that the home side succumbed to any nervousness. Joz Mitten was on hand to emphatically and athletically volley United�€trade;s fourth. The ball was delivered in by Torpey from about 40 yards out, he simply lobbed the free-kick forwards into the danger area where Chadwick leapt to challenge with a couple of defenders and Speight. The ball simply looped up into the air and Mitten reacted quickest to launch himself into the left-footed volley with the ball still some 5 feet off of the ground and 4 yards out as he drove it into the net. 4-2.
The final quarter of the match then fizzled out with both managers making their full compliment of substitutions but no real clear cut opportunities created. Ryan Gilligan did manage to pick up a yellow card and the man of the match award from Tshirtsunited.com, the match sponsors, before he was subbed off.
A terrifically entertaining match which FC United certainly deserved to win but in which they were never allowed to relax by a determined Blackpool Mechanics outfit. Barrie George and David Chadwick were outstanding at the back for United with the front 4 of Orr, Patterson, Torpey and Mitten all catching the eye at times during the contest. For the visitors Thompson, Rochester and Paynter all shone.