United dumped out by electric Avenue

FC United’s inaugural campaign in the FA Trophy came to an abrupt end as they were thrash 4-1 in a Preliminary Round replay by a rampant Bradford Park Avenue at Radcliffe Borough’s Inn2gether Stadium.

The West Yorkshire outfit played like an entirely different team to the one that could and probably should have been seen off by a dominant United side in the original encounter on Saturday.

A hatful of wasted chances by the Reds and a controversial late equaliser had given Park Avenue a lifeline that they grabbed with both hands at the weekend. They needed no such charity on Wednesday.

Without last season’s top-scorer Stuart Rudd and the inspirational Josh Howard and Matty Taylor, United were always going to be up against it but Bradford had a new verve about them which had not previously been seen in the tie.

The opening goal was messy affair, a cross from the right wing wasn’t dealt with properly; Sam Ashton came to claim but couldn’t get through a body of players and Bradford’s Saturday saviour Paul Gedman was left with the simple task of slotting into an open net.

United tried to push forward but many of their attacks looked one-dimensional and lacked any real penetration. Park Avenue on the other hand were looking increasingly dangerous on the break and were carving the Reds open with alarming ease.

Left-winger Liam Flynn avoided the attentions of Liam Foster who allowed him to roam free in to space out wide whilst trying to play the off-side trap. It appeared to be a close call but the referee’s assistant gave the attacker the benefit of the doubt and Flynn coolly curled it past the onrushing Ashton to make it 2-0.

At this point United took off Dave Swarbick and brought on Chris Baguely in an alteration to find a way back into it. Despite a good five minutes of pressing towards the end of the second half nothing materialised and Avenue took the two goal cushion into the break.

Although much of the first half wasn’t too inspiring, there was the feeling that if United could get one soon after the interval it would be game on. However, the visitors were the ones to get an early goal after a cross from the left was latched onto by captain Steven Connors who found the back of the net.

United threw bodies forward and in a desperate attempt to get goals they took off full backs Foster and Shaun Roscoe to be replaced by the more attack minded Nicky Platt and Theo Coleman.

Pushing forward, the Reds were always vulnerable and Avenue made the most of this by countering and substitute Mike Moseley emphatically headed home to give the visitors an incredible four goal lead after 64 minutes.

The fourth goal did finally seem to spring United into life and they begain to push forward with some real purpose in the last 20 minutes, although clear cut chances were few and far between. Former Liverpool trainee, Platt rifled a cracking effort low and hard from the edge of the box but Jon Worsnop pulled off a fantastic save to deny him, tipping round the left post.

The Reds did get a consolation though. Youngster Cayne Hanley opened his account for the club after good work by Jerome Wright down the left. The pacey winger got to the by-lined and whipped a dangerous ball in; Worsnop could only parry it out into the path of Hanley who smashed it home.

United will be bitterly disappointed with the result, even more so after they knew they could have had the tie in the bag against a perplexed Park Avenue on Saturday. In the end though, the better side over the two matches won the match and by some margin.

United will now have to turn their attentions to the UniBond Division One North starting with another set of visitors from West Yorkshire, Wakefield FC this Saturday at Gigg Lane.

0---1-2007 at 11: 1

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UniBond League - 1st Div North
1 Curzon Ashton 10 12 24
2 Ossett Albion 10 4 21
3 Bamber Bridge 9 8 20
4 Bradford PA 10 12 16
5 Lancaster City 10 -2 16
6 Garforth Town 9 1 14
7 Mossley 11 -2 14
8 FC United 8 8 13
9 Skelmersdale United 8 3 13
10 Newcastle Blue Star 10 2 13
11 Woodley Sports 7 5 12
12 Wakefield FC 9 1 11
13 Rossendale United 10 -10 11
14 Harrogate RA 9 -3 10
15 Bridlington Town 11 -18 8
16 Chorley 9 -4 7
17 Clitheroe 7 -6 4
18 Radcliffe Borough 7 -11 1