A stoppage-time equaliser by Liam Rushton cancelled out a first half goal from David Chadwick preventing FC United taking all three points at Marine’s Arriva Stadium on Friday afternoon.
Captain Chadwick, back from injury, broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time as the Reds, backed by the majority of the 1,093 supporters in attendance, looked to be on course to make it four wins out of four against the Merseysiders. However, Rushton struck at the death of a hard fought game and it finished 1-1.
A revised line-up saw the likes of Cedric Krou and Angelos Tsiaklis make their first starts for the club, forming a new look central midfield partnership.
The Reds made a bright start to the game, linking up well through the midfield and looking to go forward, putting pressure on the Marine back line. Several half-chances came for United on the attack within the first 20 minutes, including a Chris Ovington cross from the right side which narrowly missed the head of Carlos Roca waiting inside the six-yard box.
Positive play continued as the half progressed and United could have profited with five minutes to go as Phil Marsh latched onto a ball from Ludovic Quisitin and almost beat Marine keeper, Tim Dittmer who had rushed off his line to close down Marsh near to the dead-ball line.
A satisfying first half performance was rewarded with a goal on the stroke of half time. A Roca corner sent in from the right was headed in by Chadwick at the far post just seconds before the whistle, giving United the lead at the break.
The Merseysiders had the chance to get back on level terms early into the second period when a cross from Jamie Rainford slipped out of Sam Ashton’s hands in what should have been an easy collect for the keeper, showing the extent of the wet conditions as the rain continued to pour.
Despite the heavy pitch, United continued to play football, displaying spells of possession through the midfield and positive build-up play around the Marine 18 yard box. A shot by Marsh from the edge of the area forced a save from Dittmer and minutes later pressure around the area resulted in the ball falling to Roca on the right side of the 18 yard box, who struck his shot just wide of goal.
Marine began to pick up the pace as the half went on, the home side looking to pressure the FC defence in search of an equaliser in ever worsening conditions.
Thomas Moore looked certain to get Marine back on level terms in the final stages, picking up the ball inside the United area before rounding Ashton and shooting goalwards. However, he was denied by an excellent saving clearance off the line from James Holden who got back and covered well behind his keeper.
With 15 minutes to go, United made changes as Roca made way for Joe Yoffe and Ben Morris came on in place of Jerome Wright to make his first appearance since his recent return to the club.
As the game entered the announced three minutes added time, Ashton was forced into action, pulling off an excellent fingertip save to divert Steve Hussey’s shot out for a corner. A succession of Marine corners then saw the Reds forced into scrambled last-ditch clearances as the home side threw everything into the attack.
Gage Eme came on for United in the dying seconds, replacing Ovington after a strong display from the number 7.
More scrambled clearances came as the game continued into an extended period of stoppage time and Marine finally found a way through in the 95th minute with Rushton managing to find the back of the net through a congested six-yard box.
All-in-all, FC can take many positives from the performance, including encouraging signs from recent signings who contributed to a good display of football in difficult conditions.
United now look to build on this going into to a double-header of midweek games as they face Ashton United on Easter Monday and entertain Kendal Town at Gigg Lane on Wednesday.
Report by Victoria Fullen.