FC United will start their assault towards the UniBond Premier League title against Boston on Saturday on a high after seeing off Trafford 2-1 on Tuesday night with Jamie Mack grabbing both the goals.
Former youth team striker Mack scored two perfectly taken goals in a frenetic first half as Sam Ashton pulled off three point blank saves to keep Trafford out.
The hosts did eventually find a way through late in the second half courtesy of substitute Matt Langregan but the Reds were strong enough to hold on for victory against the UniBond Division One North side.
The game started with a hot pace as the two local rivals locked horns for the fourth time in as many years. It was Trafford who were first out of the blocks, taking the game to United. Glyn Barker could easily have broken the deadlock just eight minutes in when Scott Metcalfe broke down the left wing and provided a perfect cross for him into the box. However, the centre-forward skewed his shot wide of the near post.
Two minutes later and Ashton was called into duty for the first time in what would be quite a busy night for the United shot stopper. Gareth Thomas curled a free-kick from the left flank towards the back post and it got the faintest of flick-ons in a crowded penalty area. Ashton had to be alert to smother the ball round the post.
With the storm weathered, the Reds took the lead. Shortly after the quarter of an hour mark, Trafford goalkeeper Tom Read made a hash of a kick up field and Ben Deegan steered the ball back into the box with one touch. Mack gratefully collected the pass, composed himself and then rifled the ball into the far left corner giving Read no chance of clearing his lines. A great finish.
Every credit to Trafford though, they kept on coming at United. With just over 10 minutes of the first half remaining Barker forayed down the right and cut the ball back into the box for his strike partner Jake Williamson who curled the ball wide.
Five minutes later and Williamson missed a guilt-edged chance to level the match. The striker burst down the right wing and cut inside to avoid Adam Tong’s sliding tackle. He then raced unopposed into the box and as Ashton tried to close the angle Williamson curled his effort wide of the gaping goal from eight yards out.
Almost immediately down at the other end Mack showed the rival attack how it was done. With virtually only his second piece of the action, the youngster collected a cross field ball on the left side of the field. Keeping the ball under expert control he muscled his way into the box, cut back inside and slotted a lovely shot to the far corner to make it 2-0.
Then in the last five minutes of the half, Ashton demonstrated why he can be so valuable to United. Former Reds player Kyle Harrop jinxed his way into the box with somewhat worrying ease to set up a one-on-one opportunity. Harrop looked destined to score but Ashton had the reflexes to pull off an unlikely one handed save.
In injury time Barker produced a superb double save from the former Bolton Wanderers man. Melford Knight skidded a shot across the wet surface and Danny Warrender was on hand to block the effort, however the rebound fell to Barker just yards out. With Trafford sure to get on the score-sheet Ashton managed to thwart Barker not once but twice. A great piece of goalkeeping that even had the Trafford striker acknowledging his acrobatics.
The game slowed down somewhat in the second half with a number of substitutions from both sides and there were fewer chances than a very open first 45. United had the best of the action and seemed to keep possession a bit more than previously.
Tyrese King was unfortunate to see a superb effort tipped over the bar early on. Minutes later Carlos Roca collected a short corner and raced across the field with a mazy run before unleashing a drive into the box. The unmarked Simon Carden collected it and swivelled to smash an effort goalwards but unfortunately it was straight down Read’s throat.
Adam Carden was introduced for Warrender midway through the second half and he looked lively down the right wing. With just over 10 minutes to go he raced away from his marker and broke from the wing into the box. There were several United players calling for a pass across goal but Carden elected to shoot and Read blocked a well struck effort.
Just as United were beginning to show their dominance, Trafford struck back. With the United defence all at sea dealing with an attack down the left wing, Langregan was allowed to run into the box unmarked and he slid the ball beyond Ashton. It was too little, too late for the hosts though as Karl Marginson’s men made sure they saw out the victory.