FC United’s pre-season finally took a winning turn in spectacular fashion with a 6-0 victory at Bishop Auckland. In a match to celebrate Bishop Auckland’s 125th anniversary, a rampant FC United raced into a 3-0 lead in under 25 minutes and ended the day having doubled that tally without reply.
There was a late amendment to the teamsheet, because club captain Kyle Jacobs pulled up in the warm up, so Adam Jones was drafted in as replacement defender and captain. Dean Stott moved to right back to leave the Jones boys, Adam and Paul, in the centre of defence. The early play was all FC’s way and about 10 minutes in, there was a convincing shout for handball in the area. The liner appeared to signal a penalty, but play was waved on. Shortly afterwards, Bishop Auckland’s Andy Johnson latched onto a ball that came off the back of the head of Paul Jones, but Johnson took a touch too many before shooting over the bar. FC stepped up the pressure and Carlos Roca drew a great saving tackle from a Bishop Auckland defender in the penalty area. Chris Curley then had a shot tipped over the bar and imposing striker Kris Amadi showed his tricky footwork with a neat step-over, but his attempt was blocked. Bishop Auckland were not likely to hang onto their clean sheet for long and on 19 minutes a cross from Roca on the right was nodded in powerfully by Amadi to put FC United 1-0 up.
Two more goals followed in quick succession on 23 and 24 minutes. The first was netted by Matty Wolfenden who stretched to get his boot on an incoming shot from Roca. His tiny deflection meant the ball bounced off the defence and back to Wolfie who put it in at the second opportunity. The third goal was Amadi’s second after he squeezed a shot towards the near post, which Bishop Auckland’s Simon Ord could only help into the net while colliding heavily with the goalpost. Bouyed by the three goal lead, FC continued with fast attacking football and on about 25 minutes, Bishop Auckland’s keeper and captain, Peter Jeffries, seemed to get his fingertips to push a Roca free kick over the bar. Instead of a corner the ref gave a goal kick, which gave Bishop Auckland some respite from the onslaught and on the half hour mark they forced a corner, which FC United only cleared after an untidy goalmouth scramble.
Bishop Auckland’s new ground is situated beside an out of town supermarket. It seems the noise from our raucous fans attracted several builders onto the roof of the supermarket to watch the game. They were treated to chants about their stinginess in not paying to come in the ground and whether their boss knew they were there. Then the Bishop Auckland announcer asked them please not to jump off the roof, which, if they were Bishop Auckland fans, might have been a timely safety message because in the 42nd minute Jerome Wright added to the scoreline after he was left clear on goal by a clever sideways tap from Wolfie. Jerome carefully placed the ball inside the post with his trusty left foot to make it 4-0 to FC as half time approached. Unfortunately, before the break was reached, Bishop Auckland’s Dan Hawkins was injured and had to be replaced by Wayne Clarke.
Inside the Bishop Auckland bar at half time they were selling an interesting selection of food, instead of the usual burger/hotdog football cuisine. The menu board included apple pie and custard, which surely counts as one of your 5-a-day? (...makes mental note for bar at our new ground...).
The start of the second half saw FC United quickly up to speed as they resumed their attacking play and a cross from Dean Stott on the right was very nearly turned in by Jerome Wright. Less than five minutes into the second half there was a spate of substitutions, which seemed to disrupt FC’s rhythm and the tempo dropped a little. The best skill displayed in the next 10 minutes was a half volley from Margy as he returned a ball that had crossed over the touchline. Bishop Auckland took advantage of the lull and Gareth Ayers burst into the area for a 1 on 1 with FC’s sub keeper Jon Worsnop, who saved well.
More substitutions on 62 minutes left FC United with a somewhat vertically challenged back four of Platt, Stott, Neville and Grimshaw, but the team picked up the pace and resumed their dominance up front. Bishop Auckland held on though. Watching from the far end it appeared that Mike Norton might have missed a good chance from a few yards out after Rhodri Giggs had held up the ball on the right before threading it through. If that really was as bad a miss as it looked from 120 yards away, Norts more than made up for it with a typical striker’s tap in about 10 minutes later for 5-0 at the 75 minute mark. A sixth goal followed quickly when a mix up in the Bishop Auckland defence let Jerome in for a clear shot to score his second goal on 78 minutes. The game slowed and the last notable action was Jake Cottrell with one of his trademark curling shots, which went close, but not close enough. Probably a good job as he doesn’t succeed with many of those, so maybe best to leave the lucky outcome for games like Rochdale in the cup. Unusually, the final whistle went almost dead on 90 minutes, with the game fading fast. The final scoreline of 6-0 was a little harsh on Bishop Auckland, who were fantastic friendly hosts and it was great to celebrate their long history, especially considering Bishop Auckland’s famous link to Manchester United in 1958.