United into the semis in style
FC United cruised into the semi-finals of Manchester FA Premier Cup by dispatching Flixton 4-1 at Valley Road and the biggest cheer of the night was when substitute Stuart Rudd marked his comeback by grabbing the Reds’ fourth goal.
The evening started in sombre mood with an impeccably observed minute’s silence for Flixton’s reserve team player, 20-year-old Halton McCollin who tragically died in hospital on Tuesday after being shot in a Stretford takeaway on Saturday night.
In reflection, the importance of the match paled into insignificance to the loss of another young life to gun crime on the streets of Manchester but both teams were determined to mark the occasion with a good footballing contest.
Flixton, who although playing at home were officially the away team on the night due to a change in venues, were quicker out of the blocks and it was largely due to the agility of Sam Ashton on more than one occasion that United did not find themselves going down to an early goal.
The home side-cum-visitors did begin to press though and the first half was quite an end-to-end affair. It wasn’t until the stroke of halt-time that the deadlock was finally broken though. Adam Carden was brought down in the box and captain Rory Patterson converted with aplomb for his 24th goal of the season.
United nearly doubled their lead within seconds when virtually straight from the restart Nick Robinson when racing clear, rounded the keeper but was somehow prevented from getting his shot off by a piece of solid defending by a covering defender.
Winger Josh Howard was back in the line up for the first time since September but it was Bradley Howard who made the biggest impact of the night. The left back brought the ball from inside his own half and looked to be trying to play Robinson through but when the Flixton defence backed off and backed off Howard just kept on going and unleashed a rasping drive in off a defender.
That goal seemed to settle the nerves and United began to play the better football. Substitute Chris Baguley put the result beyond any doubt in the 67th minute when he curled a free-kick low around the wall.
Flixton did grab a consolation goal with ten minutes to go through Greg Brickell but Rudd, who was wearing heavy strapping on his recovering knee, sent the FC United fans home happy by capping his 25 minute run out with the final goal of the night.
With barely two minutes to go Patterson reached the dead ball line and knocked the ball back to Rudd who slotted it home, immediately banishing the memory of nearly four months out on the sidelines and sending United into the semi-finals.
1 Sam Ashton
2 Liam Foster
3 Bradley Howard
4 James Holden
5 Micah Bleau
6 Adam Turner
7 Adam Carden
8 Simon Carden
9 Nick Robinson
10 Josh Howard
11 Rory Patterson
12 Jamie Baguley
14 Chris Baguley
15 Nicky Platt
16 David Chadwick
18 Stuart Rudd
24-01-2008 at 00:53