A brace from Carlos Roca and one from on-loan striker Michael Norton saw FC United clinch an entertaining 3-3 draw with a St Pauli All Stars side in Hamburg on Saturday evening.
Croatian international Ivan Klasnic, who is currently on loan at Bolton Wanderers from Nantes, scored a superb hat-trick for the hosts to make sure honours were even on the German club’s 100th anniversary.
In a topsy-turvy, end-to-end match United came from behind twice. The Reds found themselves a goal down midway through the first half before Norton equalised and Roca put United into the lead.
The hosts equalised on the stroke of half-time after a defensive mix up and the newly promoted Bundesliga side looked to have snatched victory at the end but Roca won and converted a penalty to make it all square.
United started the game brightly and the pace of Roca and Jerome Wright in particular looked to be troubling some of St Pauli’s veterans. Both players raced menacingly down the wings and created chances for Ben Deegan. The big United forward was denied twice early on by goalkeeper Klaus Thomforde, first when his header was saved and then moments later a well executed bicycle-kick, which seemed destined for the bottom right corner, was snatched to safety.
Roca also went close when he weaved his way into the box only to be denied again by Thomforde, who is now St Pauli’s goalkeeper coach after making 317 appearances for the club between 1983 and 1999.
Down at the other end, Sam Ashton pulled off a superb double save seconds after the team of current and former St Pauli favourites rattled the crossbar. Ashton was at his acrobatic best denying Klasnic and then Thomas Meggle when the hosts looked certain to score from one of their three quick fire attempts on goal. Mark Ayres also made an outstanding last ditch sliding tackle with St Pauli bearing down on goal.
Unfortunately, United couldn’t hold out for much longer and Klasnic scored a free header at the back post, nodding the ball past a helpless Ashton after a good cross from Christian Springer on the left wing.
Despite the setback, the Reds were not phased and responded in excellent fashion. Player-of-the-season, Jake Cottrell sprayed a delightful ball out to Roca on the right wing. The diminutive winger raced clear before teeing-up Norton in the box and the Curzon Ashton striker made no mistake, rifling the ball hard and low past Thomforde.
Minutes later, Roca played the ball square to Cottrell, who instinctively slipped the ball through to Wright on the left. Wright surged down the goal-line and fired the ball into the box where Roca converted at the near-post after making an unchecked run. A wonderful piece of teamwork to make it 2-1.
Just as it looked like the Reds would take a lead into the interval, Ashton blotted an otherwise excellent performance with a moment he’d probably rather forget. The former Bolton Wanderers shot-stopper came racing off his line to clear the ball but he lost out in the challenge leaving Klasnic to gratefully roll the ball into an empty net.
Play became slightly more disjointed in the second half as both teams made several substitutes. Grant Shenton, Chris Ovington, Cedric Krou and Nick Swirad were brought on as manager Karl Marginson continues to give his young players some valuable experience.
The quartet all put in decent displays with Krou looking very combatitive in midfield. Unfortunately for Swirad, it was his slip on the edge of the box that was pounced upon by the merciless Klasnic who completed his hat-trick with aplomb. The young centre-back should not feel too downhearted though as Klasnic scored 12 Premier League goals for The Trotters this season proving he has an eye for goal at the highest level.
It looked like it might be St Pauli’s day after all but with minutes to go Roca had other ideas. The winger had been running the show for United, sometimes doing too much but always wanting the ball and looking threatening. It was another burst into the box by Roca which gained United a penalty after he was felled. Roca picked himself up and scored a late equaliser leaving the travelling Red army feeling like they were on top of the world.
16-05-2010 at 21:27