FC United ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at bottom of the table Altrincham on Boxing Day with goals from Tom Brown, Jason Gilchrist and substitute Tom Greaves in front of 2,490 supporters.
Brown broke the deadlock with a wonderful volley midway through the first half, Gilchrist slid in the second with just under 20 minutes to go, and Greaves sealed victory in stoppage time with a powerful strike inside the box. The result means the Reds finish 2016 in the top half of the Vanarama National League North table, in 11th position.
FC United gave a competitive debut to former Hull City, Wolves and Bristol City goalkeeper Adriano Basso. The 41-year-old Brazilian signed for the club last week after making his debut against Hereford in a pre-season friendly back in July.
The first action of the game saw captain Jerome Wright flash a fierce shot wide of the far post from the left wing after six minutes. Unfortunately, Sam Sheridan was injured in the build up to the move and had to be stretchered off. It looked as if the midfielder may have sustained ligament damage whilst stretching for the ball. An update will follow when more news is known. Kieran Glynn was introduced from the bench.
FC United were pressing and centre-back Luke Ashworth went close with a couple of headers from corners moments before and after Brown’s goal. Brown’s first goal of the season was a superb strike from the edge of the box. A long throw-in was flicked back to the midfielder by Glynn and he hit it first time on the volley into the top right of the goal, giving Altrincham goalkeeper Tim Deasy no chance.
Three minutes later, Altrincham’s Kyle Brownhill curled a decent effort wide of the post but Basso was untroubled. United should then have gone 2-0 ahead. Glynn and Wright were tormenting The Robins down the left. The teenage substitute played a ball to Wright who hit it first time to the far post where George Thomson was unfortunate to see his diving effort fly across the goalmouth and wide.
The hosts then began to apply some pressure and although Basso only had to make one save - from Damian Reeves - FC United will have been happy to get to the interval with their lead still intact.
The second half began as the first had finished with Altrincham determined to find a way back into the match. However, The Robins looked pretty toothless. Basso was called into the action a couple of times and did well, making sure there was no way through.
United began to settle and create more chances. Gilchrist fired over the bar just a minute before he got his goal after being played in by Glynn. Moments later, Glynn found Wright in space on the left again and the United captain fired a ferocious shot at goal. Deasy could only parry the shot on the line and Gilchrist dived in to bundle the ball home for 2-0 with 17 minutes to go.
Four minutes later, Thomson could have got in on the act. Glynn was again the provider. After a great run, the youngster laid off the ball for Thomson on the edge of the box and Deasy did well to tip his pile-driver around the post.
Altrincham were throwing men forward in a vain attempt to get two goals but it never looked likely. In doing so, they left United with a huge amount of space to exploit at the back. With five minutes to go, Thomson should have definitely scored after going one-on-one with Deasy. The United man tried a cheeky chip, which was comfortably saved, when rounding the ‘keeper seemed like the better option.
Down at the other end, Basso made one last save at his near post to cap a clean sheet and solid debut performance. With 90 minutes on the clock, there was just enough time left for Glynn to pick up the ball again, terrorise the Altrincham defence one more time, before squaring to Greaves who smashed a shot home, hard and low for 3-0.
It was a good performance by FC United against a side that clearly have problems with just one win and seven points all season. The Reds will be hoping for more of the same when we host the same opposition at Broadhurst Park on New Year’s Day.
Website man of the match: Kieran Glynn. Some very good performances by FC United. Honourable mentions for Jerome Wright and Harry Winter who could easily have taken the award but Glynn had a hand in most of United’s best moments.
Report by Matthew Haley