3.00pm Friday 26th December 2014
EvoStik League Premier Division
Tameside Stadium, Richmond Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne, OL7 9HG
|Curzon Ashton ||0 - 4||FC United of Manchester|
| ||Greaves 45 (+9), 90 (+1)|
Stott 76 (pen)
1 Hakan Burton
2 Simon Woodford
3 Darren Thornton
4 Jonathan Hunt
5 Tom Eckersley
6 Alex Brown
7 Ryan Watson
8 Sam Walker (capt)
9 Niall Cummins
10 Ryan Brooke
11 Joe Guest
12 Christopher Rowney (for 7, 9 mins)
15 Luke Horrocks (for 11, 83 mins)
16 Matthew Warburton (for 5, 68 mins)
|FC United of Manchester|
1 David Carnell
2 Dean Stott
3 Scott Cheetham
4 Dave Birch
5 Luke Ashworth
6 James Knowles
7 Matthew Wolfenden
8 Callum Byrne
9 Tom Greaves
10 Greg Daniels
11 Craig Lindfield
12 Joe Fox (for 8, 63 mins)
16 Lewis Lacy (for 6, 20 mins)
17 Thomas Brown (for 11, 79 mins)
FC United confirmed we have what it takes to mount an Evo-Stik Premier Division title challenge in 2015 with an emphatic 4-0 win at second placed Curzon Ashton on Boxing Day.
Tom Greaves scored the opening goal and the fourth, Matthew Wolfenden added a second midway through the second half and captain Dean Stott bagged the third from the penalty spot.
The only downside for FC United was the news that centre-back James Knowles is suspected to have suffered a double leg break after coming off on the wrong end of what looked liked a 50-50 challenge.
The Reds broke the deadlock at the end of the first half as Greaves bravely headed home a lofted free-kick from Lewis Lacy. Wolfenden doubled the lead after pickpocketing a hapless Ashton defender, firing passed goalkeeper Hakan Burton at the second attempt.
Less than 10 minutes later, Craig Lindfield was taken out by Burton in the box and Stott converted from the spot. Deep into stoppage time, Greaves completed his double with a screamer after a fantastic run and defence splitting pass from Scott Cheetham.
The scoreline flattered the Reds but the win was well deserved against a good footballing side who have looked like the team to beat in recent weeks. The Nash had won four of their last five league games and were looking well placed to leapfrog leaders Skelmersdale.
The difference between the two sides in what was a very even game was that United looked far more clinical in front of goal, something that was missing at the beginning of the season.
Curzon had the best three chances of a first half, which was unfortunately punctuated by stoppages due to serious injuries to Knowles and Ryan Watson who were both stretchered off inside the first 20 minutes. We wish both players a speedy recovery.
The match took a while to spring into action. Around the half hour mark, Nash striker Niall Cummins fluffed his lines by shooting wide and moments later centre-back Alex Brown headed over. The biggest test for FC United came on 40 minutes when a free-kick from the halfway line evaded everyone to find Joe Guest at the back post. He controlled the ball and fired goalwards but Dave Carnell stood strong to push the shot around the post.
With the storm weathered, FC United did what so many teams have done to us this season and indeed over the last nine years - we nicked a goal against the run of play. Deep into the 10 minutes of stoppage time, Lacy’s free-kick was headed up into the air and Greaves reacted quickest to make it 1-0.
Curzon came out strongly in the second half, perhaps wondering how they were a goal down. They had a glorious chance to equalise on the hour when Sam Walker whipped a free-kick into the box but Cummins was the culprit again as he glanced a free header wide of the back post.
United had to step it up a gear to protect their lead and that’s exactly what they did. The forward line of Greaves, Wolfenden, Lindfield and Greg Daniels began to press with more urgency and they were rewarded for their hard work when Wolfenden stole the ball from centre-back Jonathan Hunt. The tackle gave Wolfenden a free run on goal and although Burton saved his first effort on the edge of the area, the FC United striker managed to bundle the ball over the line at the second attempt.
The game was far from over at 2-0. With 20 minutes to go, Stott was required to put in a great sliding block to stop substitute Matthew Warburton from getting a shot on goal after being played through by Cummins.
Five minutes later, it was Stott who sealed the victory with a penalty and Curzon were soon reduced to 10 men as frustration seemed to boil over when Walker headbutted Wolfenden off the ball. The referee had no hesitation in producing the red card.
With the three points safely in the bag, Greaves put the icing on the cake by arrowing a diagonal screamer into the top corner after being played through by left-back Cheetham.
The Reds have now lost just once in our last 14 matches and the Boxing Day win was the third 4-0 victory in six weeks. The challenge will be keeping this form going in 2015 but first, we travel to Kings Lynn on Sunday where we aim to finish the year on a high.
Website man of the match: Tom Greaves. Scored the breakthrough goal and a cracker after leading the line well. Looks like he’s back to his best form of last season.
Report by Matthew Haley