Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

FC United of Manchester

Roca (31)

Hednesford Town

Lennon (80)

(1) 1

(0) 1



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Francino Francis


Eastwood Town (H) 4.9.12

An excellent attacking display from the Pitmen saw them earn their first-ever point at FC United of Manchester this afternoon, as Michael Lennon's first goal for the Pitmen sealed a well-earned draw against the much-fancied Manchester club

With a string of games to come in the next few weeks, manager Rob Smith looked to make a couple of changes to his squad; Alex Melbourne made his first start of the season at right-back, with John Disney dropping to the bench. New signing Mark Hingley was also named amongst the substitutes after joining the club this week following his release from West Bromwich Albion

Backed by a typically large crowd at Bower Fold, FC United made a storming start in the early exchanges; a header from Adam Jones on three minutes was palmed away from goal by Dan Crane as the big defender threatened at the far post

Crane was again alert to deny Matthew Wolfenden on ten minutes, making a brave save low down to smother the ball at the striker's feet

After weathering the early storm, the Pitmen started to assert their authority on the game with skipper Dave MacPherson leading the line brilliantly for the visitors. He was supported well by the excellent Francino Francis in defence, whilst strike duo Aaron Rey and Neil Harvey were giving Jones and Dave Birch real headaches at the back for United

Rey was first to test FC United keeper James Spencer on twenty-seven minutes, making room for a shot before firing goalwards and forcing Spencer into a fine save low down by his post

Despite the Pitmen's improved showing, it was the home side that grabbed the opening goal of the afternoon, in somewhat fortuitous circumstances it has to be said. Carlos Roca, the scourge of previous Hednesford sides, made a jinking run down the right-wing before cutting inside and scuffing a ball across the face of the Hednesford goal. The ball did enough to wrong-foot Crane and his defenders, nestling in the far bottom corner of the net via a nick off the base of the post

The Pitmen's reply was immediate and impressive, as they spent much of the rest of the half carving out chance after chance in an attempt to get back on level terms. A superb cross from Nathan Woolfe somehow missed the head of Harvey as he darted into the area

Rey thought he had nicked an equaliser for the Pitmen on thirty-five minutes, rounding Spencer and planting the ball into the net but being pulled back for an earlier offside flag

Two minutes later, last-ditch defending denied Harvey a well-earned goal as he twisted and turned inside the penalty area, only to be denied by a block from Spencer, who cleared the ball away for a corner kick

Ben Bailey was the next man in white to 'have a go', as he headed Woolfe's corner kick goalwards, only for Spencer to come to United's rescue again and divert the ball away from goal

FC United's Jerome Wright almost put clear air between the two sides with the first attack of the second half, beating Melbourne all ends up with a tricky run down the left-wing. His shot, however, was well blocked by the imposing figure of Francis, who was enjoying his best game to date as a Hednesford player

Back came the Pitmen once again, dominating the next fifteen minutes with better possession and territorial advantage. Melbourne made a marauding run on fifty-four minutes, crossing well for Harvey who headed narrowly wide of goal

Harvey and Rey linked up well just before the hour mark, with Harvey laying the ball into the path of Rey, who tested Spencer's reflexes with a powerful shot that the United keeper turned away for the umpteenth time in the afternoon

Sixty minutes saw Hednesford have their best chance of the game, as Woolfe lined up a free-kick to the left of the United penalty area after Harvey had been fouled. Woolfe's wicked kick swerved and dipped before crashing off the post and away from goal

More acrobatics from Spencer on sixty-eight minutes kept United in front, as he made a smart save to deny Harvey from fifteen yards out

The hard-running Rey was replaced with twenty-one minutes remaining, as the experienced Sean O'Connor was brought on alongside Harvey

Ten minutes later, Michael Lennon was introduced in place of Jamey Osborne, who had struggled to exert any authority in midfield during the afternoon

And what an introduction Lennon was, as he made his way forward to face a Woolfe corner kick. The ball in was partially cleared to Darren Campion, whose recycled ball in found Lennon - his first touch of the game saw him bring the ball down before lashing the ball across Spencer and into the far corner of the net

Both sides sensed a win was in the offing during a frenetic last ten minutes, with chances at both ends. Harvey again saw Spencer equal to his header, whilst Chris Amadi headed wide for United

In an effort to shore up the back line late on and protect the point, Smith threw on the more defensively minded Phil Clarke for Harvey with six minutes remaining

United were to have the final chance of the game in added time, as Wright took a free-kick just outside the area and curled the ball towards goal. Crane, who had had little to do in the second half, was alert to the danger and tipped the ball over for a corner kick

Both sides will be content with a hard-earned point, and there is little doubt that in the end of season shake-up is likely to include two excellent footballing sides. For the Pitmen, a chance to complete an early-season double on Tuesday night, as they entertain basement side Eastwood Town at Keys Park

FC United of Manchester: Spencer, Jacobs, Cottrell, Birch, Jones, Scott, Roca (Johnson 66), Platt (Grimshaw 81), Norton, Wright, Wolfenden (Amadi 66)       Subs Unused: Anderson, Cheetham


Hednesford Town: Crane, Melbourne, Campion, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson ©, Osborne (Lennon 79), Durrell, Harvey (Clarke 85), Rey (O’Connor 70), Woolfe      Subs Unused: Disney, Hingley

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