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Match Report


      

3.00pm Saturday 19th November 2005

Moore & Co Construction Solicitors sponsored North West Counties Football League Division 2

Anchor Ground, Anchor Road, Darwen, BB3 0BB


Darwen

1 - 2

FC United of Manchester

Zarac 58 Brown 22
Carden 76

Attendance: 1,715

Darwen 1

Zarac 58

FC United of Manchester 2

Brown 22
Carden 76

Attendance: 1,715
Darwen


FC United of Manchester
1 Barrie George
2 Tony Cullen
3 Robert Nugent
4 Steven Spencer
5 David Chadwick (capt)
6 Dave Brown
7 William Ahern
8 Simon Carden
9 Jonathan Mitten
10 Steve Torpey
11 Kevin Elvin

Subs.
12 Adie Orr (for 9)
14 Mark Rawlinson (for 7)
15 Darren Lyons (for 10)



Match Report
In this first season FC United of Manchester have visited a few different grounds but it may be some while before we again play at a ground with as much history as the Anchor Ground at Darwen. Darwen FC first played on this site in the Lancashire League in 1899. All credit to the home club for managing to host the fixture at their own ground rather than having to move to a more modern facility. I’m delighted that the match was played there and I hope that perhaps a couple more of our future hosts might be able to play our fixture at their ‘proper’ homes.

It seems only fair, if I’ve credited Darwen for their positive efforts, that I might offer some constructive criticism. It was clearly a poorly thought out plan to charge full price for all match goers. The excuses that I’ve heard discussed sound hollow to me. The whole affair smacks of exploitation and it is not what we expect at this level of football. Most of us are used to having been exploited week in week out by various clubs not least Manchester United themselves but in the North West Counties League we’ve rediscovered what it was that attracted us to watching football in the first place. It’s a great shame that the decision taken by Darwen FC to charge ‘across the board’ admission prices has caused us to relive the very negative feelings and emotions that caused us to form this club in the first place.

In addition the choice to segregate the ‘home’ and ‘away’ support was very questionable. Having chosen to do so it is clearly unreasonable to split the ground so that only home fans were allowed access to the seated areas. Despite FC United supporters reputation as hardcore singers (and dancers) we do count amongst our number a good few supporters of advancing years who appreciate the option to sit to watch their football. Perhaps it might have been more sensible to divide the main stand in half with the demarcation around the halfway line so that us ‘old uns’ could have chosen a seat if it suited us.

United kicked off playing down the slight slope. The line-up was shaken up after the Colne defeat as was the formation. A 3-5-2 was adopted which allowed Dave Brown to make his first start as the central of the 3 centre backs. He was partnered by the captain, Chaddy, on his right and Rob Nugent on his left. Cullen and Elvin operated as wingbacks whilst 2 more returnees from injury, Steve Spencer and William Aherne, joined Simon Carden in midfield. Up front were Joz Mitten and Steve Torpey. I think Margy can get away with 3-5-2 but he better not try any of that 4-5-1 or the natives will quickly grow restless!

On 4 minutes and Simon Carden very nearly opened the scoring after a Torpey cross found him in a great position. The first time shot was true but well saved by Andrew Morris in the home goal. It looked as though Joz was going to turn in the rebound but some sterling defensive work allowed Darwen to clear their lines.

Cullen was then involved at either end within a 60 second period, firstly he expertly cushioned a chest pass back to Barrie George as a threatening cross came in from the Darwen right. Then at the other end he supported the FC attack as Torpey found Mitten who played a super ball in for Cullen galloping down the right flank. Tony looked to be in a decent position but saw his shot from near to the right hand corner of the penalty area slice harmlessly wide of the near post. Soon after and Torpey was played through by Aherne but again the shot was off target as the United number 10 cut inside onto his usually trusty left foot.

After United made the early running Darwen then enjoyed a purple patch and might well have taken the lead. Their big number 9, Neil Zarac, was a real handful and he was enjoying some decent service at times. He rose well just before the quarter hour mark to head wide after a freekick was delivered long into the box from around halfway. A few minutes later and a neat Darwen build up down the right involving Moore and Denning, the ex-Padiham midfielder, culminated with a Brian Fogarty header wide of goal. Another 2 minutes later and Zarac again rose above the cover and this time saw his header, from a Richard Fogarty cross, strike the top and inside of the left hand post before being cleared to safety.

After that 5 minute spell of Darwen pressure United then mounted some more pressure themselves. Torpey robbed Cliff Power in a central position only 30 yards from goal. He carried the ball forward and looked certain to score but somehow dragged his shot beyond the right hand post with only Morris to beat. A let off for the home side and Power in particular but their relief was to be short-lived as just a minute or 2 later, in the 22nd minute, United did get the opener. A strange goal coming from an unlikely source, I’d say.

It originated as United were awarded a freekick on the right flank in from the touchline near to the penalty area. Torpey took it with his left foot but the ball was headed clear by one of the massed ranks of Darwen defenders. The looping header out came to Tony Cullen some 25 yards from goal, TC controlled on his chest before striking a right footed shot on the volley that probably would have gone out for a throw in near the left hand corner flag! It would have done that had it not been for Dave Brown lurking near the left corner of the area. The debutant reacted superbly by striking his own, more accurate, right footed volley into the bottom left of goal. Morris nearly kept the shot out but it nestled in the net signalling a freakish first goal for the centreback in his first start for the side. 0-1.

On the half hour Zarac again threatened. This time the chance came about after a cross in from the Darwen right was only partially cleared via David Chadwick’s head. In truth, the United captain did very well to get any distance at all on his header as he was at full stretch; hence the ball fell invitingly to Brian Fogarty at the area’s edge. The Darwen number 6 snatched at his left footed shot which was, consequently, badly misdirected. With more than a little similarity to the build up to United’s opening goal Fogarty’s miss-hit shot picked out a team-mate. Zarac was centrally placed no more than 8 yards from goal but his shot was expertly blocked by George who advanced rapidly and reacted even quicker.

In the minutes leading up to halftime both sides carved out shooting chances and on both occasions the strikers hit their shots straight and true but only directly to the goalkeeper. Mitten saw his half volley gathered by Morris and Patrick Lauber saw his low shot gathered by George.

The second half was a bit scrappy for the first several minutes. Neither team were managing to put together any really cohesive passages of play. For Darwen Denning had a weak shot that Barrie George had no trouble stopping. United also looked to threaten but Aherne hit his shot wide and Torpey put a shot over the bar.

A minute or two short of the hour mark and, inevitably, Zarac finally got his goal. A quick Darwen break on the left wing looked to be well defended but an attempted cross was only partly blocked. The deflected cross fell into the no-man’s land between back line and goalkeeper. Zarac did not hesitate and met the bouncing ball at about the same time as Barrie George arrived. The ball spilled from Barrie’s grasp and fell kindly for Zarac who made no mistake from around 12 yards out. 1-1.

Adie Orr was introduced with Joz Mitten departing the fray on 65 minutes. The home side might have taken the lead 5 minutes later as Zarac again was the focus of their attack. On this occasion he got in behind the United defence but Barrie George was very quick in closing him down and very brave in his challenge doing enough to block the first shot. The follow-up was ballooned well over the bar form 30 yards out to the relief of most present.

With a little less than 15 minutes remaining United retook the lead. Good work on the right touchline between Orr and Cullen released Steve Torpey. The mulleted one drove in from wide out right directly towards goal. A neat step over saw just enough space won to unleash the shot. The narrow angle was always going to be working against Torpey and in favour of the goalkeeper. Morris did indeed make a smart save from the powerfully struck shot but the loose ball fell very invitingly for Simon Carden who, as usual, was following up. FC United’s very own version of Paul Scholes tapped in at the far post for his 5th goal of the season to the delight of the singing, bouncing frenzied masses behind the goal. 1-2.

The match played out with no more major talking points. Rawlinson and Lyons came on for Aherne, who looked to have picked up a knock, and Torpey. Lyons did make a strong bid for the supporters’ Jester Hat award with a missed kick that resulted in an embarrassing slip and fall. I think we were all laughing with the player coach as much as we were laughing at him!

This was a better performance from United but still some way short of some of the early season form. It was good to see William Aherne back in the side after he picked up a knee injury in a substitutes appearance very early in the season. It’s been a long recovery for the youngster but he looked dynamic in midfield and got in some thunderous tackles. Both of the wingbacks did well, the changed formation asked a lot of them with significant responsibilities on the defensive as well as the attacking side of the game. Cullen and Elvin were both up and down their respective flanks with Tony Cullen particularly catching my eye. He and Chaddy seem to be cut from the same cloth, taking no prisoners at all. Torpey was a threat most of the afternoon and might, on another day, have added to his own personal goal scoring tally.

All 3 of the centrebacks coped well with a different system. We already knew about Chadwick and Nugent but in Dave Brown we clearly have another defender who can play the game. Add McCartney to the mix and there really is an embarrassment of riches in central defence. I predict …………… more selection difficulties ahead for the manager.

(with thanks to FC United of Manchester supporter Wayne Clark for supplying this match report)
Match Report

In this first season FC United of Manchester have visited a few different grounds but it may be some while before we again play at a ground with as much history as the Anchor Ground at Darwen. Darwen FC first played on this site in the Lancashire League in 1899. All credit to the home club for managing to host the fixture at their own ground rather than having to move to a more modern facility. I’m delighted that the match was played there and I hope that perhaps a couple more of our future hosts might be able to play our fixture at their ‘proper’ homes.

It seems only fair, if I’ve credited Darwen for their positive efforts, that I might offer some constructive criticism. It was clearly a poorly thought out plan to charge full price for all match goers. The excuses that I’ve heard discussed sound hollow to me. The whole affair smacks of exploitation and it is not what we expect at this level of football. Most of us are used to having been exploited week in week out by various clubs not least Manchester United themselves but in the North West Counties League we’ve rediscovered what it was that attracted us to watching football in the first place. It’s a great shame that the decision taken by Darwen FC to charge ‘across the board’ admission prices has caused us to relive the very negative feelings and emotions that caused us to form this club in the first place.

In addition the choice to segregate the ‘home’ and ‘away’ support was very questionable. Having chosen to do so it is clearly unreasonable to split the ground so that only home fans were allowed access to the seated areas. Despite FC United supporters reputation as hardcore singers (and dancers) we do count amongst our number a good few supporters of advancing years who appreciate the option to sit to watch their football. Perhaps it might have been more sensible to divide the main stand in half with the demarcation around the halfway line so that us ‘old uns’ could have chosen a seat if it suited us.

United kicked off playing down the slight slope. The line-up was shaken up after the Colne defeat as was the formation. A 3-5-2 was adopted which allowed Dave Brown to make his first start as the central of the 3 centre backs. He was partnered by the captain, Chaddy, on his right and Rob Nugent on his left. Cullen and Elvin operated as wingbacks whilst 2 more returnees from injury, Steve Spencer and William Aherne, joined Simon Carden in midfield. Up front were Joz Mitten and Steve Torpey. I think Margy can get away with 3-5-2 but he better not try any of that 4-5-1 or the natives will quickly grow restless!

On 4 minutes and Simon Carden very nearly opened the scoring after a Torpey cross found him in a great position. The first time shot was true but well saved by Andrew Morris in the home goal. It looked as though Joz was going to turn in the rebound but some sterling defensive work allowed Darwen to clear their lines.

Cullen was then involved at either end within a 60 second period, firstly he expertly cushioned a chest pass back to Barrie George as a threatening cross came in from the Darwen right. Then at the other end he supported the FC attack as Torpey found Mitten who played a super ball in for Cullen galloping down the right flank. Tony looked to be in a decent position but saw his shot from near to the right hand corner of the penalty area slice harmlessly wide of the near post. Soon after and Torpey was played through by Aherne but again the shot was off target as the United number 10 cut inside onto his usually trusty left foot.

After United made the early running Darwen then enjoyed a purple patch and might well have taken the lead. Their big number 9, Neil Zarac, was a real handful and he was enjoying some decent service at times. He rose well just before the quarter hour mark to head wide after a freekick was delivered long into the box from around halfway. A few minutes later and a neat Darwen build up down the right involving Moore and Denning, the ex-Padiham midfielder, culminated with a Brian Fogarty header wide of goal. Another 2 minutes later and Zarac again rose above the cover and this time saw his header, from a Richard Fogarty cross, strike the top and inside of the left hand post before being cleared to safety.

After that 5 minute spell of Darwen pressure United then mounted some more pressure themselves. Torpey robbed Cliff Power in a central position only 30 yards from goal. He carried the ball forward and looked certain to score but somehow dragged his shot beyond the right hand post with only Morris to beat. A let off for the home side and Power in particular but their relief was to be short-lived as just a minute or 2 later, in the 22nd minute, United did get the opener. A strange goal coming from an unlikely source, I’d say.

It originated as United were awarded a freekick on the right flank in from the touchline near to the penalty area. Torpey took it with his left foot but the ball was headed clear by one of the massed ranks of Darwen defenders. The looping header out came to Tony Cullen some 25 yards from goal, TC controlled on his chest before striking a right footed shot on the volley that probably would have gone out for a throw in near the left hand corner flag! It would have done that had it not been for Dave Brown lurking near the left corner of the area. The debutant reacted superbly by striking his own, more accurate, right footed volley into the bottom left of goal. Morris nearly kept the shot out but it nestled in the net signalling a freakish first goal for the centreback in his first start for the side. 0-1.

On the half hour Zarac again threatened. This time the chance came about after a cross in from the Darwen right was only partially cleared via David Chadwick’s head. In truth, the United captain did very well to get any distance at all on his header as he was at full stretch; hence the ball fell invitingly to Brian Fogarty at the area’s edge. The Darwen number 6 snatched at his left footed shot which was, consequently, badly misdirected. With more than a little similarity to the build up to United’s opening goal Fogarty’s miss-hit shot picked out a team-mate. Zarac was centrally placed no more than 8 yards from goal but his shot was expertly blocked by George who advanced rapidly and reacted even quicker.

In the minutes leading up to halftime both sides carved out shooting chances and on both occasions the strikers hit their shots straight and true but only directly to the goalkeeper. Mitten saw his half volley gathered by Morris and Patrick Lauber saw his low shot gathered by George.

The second half was a bit scrappy for the first several minutes. Neither team were managing to put together any really cohesive passages of play. For Darwen Denning had a weak shot that Barrie George had no trouble stopping. United also looked to threaten but Aherne hit his shot wide and Torpey put a shot over the bar.

A minute or two short of the hour mark and, inevitably, Zarac finally got his goal. A quick Darwen break on the left wing looked to be well defended but an attempted cross was only partly blocked. The deflected cross fell into the no-man’s land between back line and goalkeeper. Zarac did not hesitate and met the bouncing ball at about the same time as Barrie George arrived. The ball spilled from Barrie’s grasp and fell kindly for Zarac who made no mistake from around 12 yards out. 1-1.

Adie Orr was introduced with Joz Mitten departing the fray on 65 minutes. The home side might have taken the lead 5 minutes later as Zarac again was the focus of their attack. On this occasion he got in behind the United defence but Barrie George was very quick in closing him down and very brave in his challenge doing enough to block the first shot. The follow-up was ballooned well over the bar form 30 yards out to the relief of most present.

With a little less than 15 minutes remaining United retook the lead. Good work on the right touchline between Orr and Cullen released Steve Torpey. The mulleted one drove in from wide out right directly towards goal. A neat step over saw just enough space won to unleash the shot. The narrow angle was always going to be working against Torpey and in favour of the goalkeeper. Morris did indeed make a smart save from the powerfully struck shot but the loose ball fell very invitingly for Simon Carden who, as usual, was following up. FC United’s very own version of Paul Scholes tapped in at the far post for his 5th goal of the season to the delight of the singing, bouncing frenzied masses behind the goal. 1-2.

The match played out with no more major talking points. Rawlinson and Lyons came on for Aherne, who looked to have picked up a knock, and Torpey. Lyons did make a strong bid for the supporters’ Jester Hat award with a missed kick that resulted in an embarrassing slip and fall. I think we were all laughing with the player coach as much as we were laughing at him!

This was a better performance from United but still some way short of some of the early season form. It was good to see William Aherne back in the side after he picked up a knee injury in a substitutes appearance very early in the season. It’s been a long recovery for the youngster but he looked dynamic in midfield and got in some thunderous tackles. Both of the wingbacks did well, the changed formation asked a lot of them with significant responsibilities on the defensive as well as the attacking side of the game. Cullen and Elvin were both up and down their respective flanks with Tony Cullen particularly catching my eye. He and Chaddy seem to be cut from the same cloth, taking no prisoners at all. Torpey was a threat most of the afternoon and might, on another day, have added to his own personal goal scoring tally.

All 3 of the centrebacks coped well with a different system. We already knew about Chadwick and Nugent but in Dave Brown we clearly have another defender who can play the game. Add McCartney to the mix and there really is an embarrassment of riches in central defence. I predict …………… more selection difficulties ahead for the manager.

(with thanks to FC United of Manchester supporter Wayne Clark for supplying this match report)