2 - 2
FC United of Manchester
Nicky Platt grabbed a second half equaliser for FC United to gain a decent 2-2 draw against secondary landlords Stalybridge Celtic of the Conference North at Bower Fold in a fiesty encounter on Saturday afternoon.
The draw meant the Myra Mandryk Trophy, first won by Stalybridge Celtic after beating FC United in a friendly in 2005, will now be held jointly between the two clubs. After the game Myra’s widower, John Mandryk, presented the trophy to the captains of both Stalybridge and FC United.
The Reds took the lead midway through the first half thanks to an own goal but Celtic hit back immediately through Greg Wilkinson before former FC United striker Phil Marsh gave the hosts a half-time lead from the penalty spot.
United then had two goals disallowed for off-side before Platt popped up to gain a well deserved draw for Karl Marginson’s side.
The Reds started very brightly and could have taken the lead inside the first minute when Lee Neville saw his shot saved.
On six minutes Norton almost gave FC the lead after a long clearance from goalkeeper James Spencer. The Reds striker tried to lift that ball over ’keeper Daniel Jackson but missed his kick, the ball staying at his feet, however, Jackson recovered to tip the ball wide.
From the corner Adam Jones headed just over. Three minutes later Jake Cottrell was unlucky with a blocked shot after great work from Norton and Michael Carr.
Cottrell was in the middle of the action a few minutes later when a poor challenge saw players from both sides get involved in a melée that spilled over to both benches. Once calm had been restored, Cottrell was replaced by Platt to save him from a red card and FC United assistant manager Roy Soule was sent to the stand for his part in the kerfuffle.
On 21 minutes, FC took the lead when a corner was headed goalwards by Dean Stott. The ball was actually put in his own net by Connor Jennings as he tried to clear the ball.
Sadly the lead only lasted a couple of minutes, as a break on the right saw the ball work its way into the FC box where Wilkinson was left on his own and he rolled the ball into the empty net.
The home side upped their game from this point, Jennings being played in but Spencer made a good save.
Celtic took the lead 10 minutes before half-time when Jones conceded a penalty and Marsh made no mistake from the spot.
Almost immediately, FC took to the attack and Steve Torpey had a goal disallowed for offside following a shot from the edge of the box. The half ended with another flashpoint, when Carr challenged for a 50-50 ball and was left crumpled on the floor after receiving studs in his chest.
Again, both teams produced their handbags, and when calm was restored, the referee decided that the challenge was only worthy of a yellow card.
It was a dramatic end to an entertaining half of football where FC played some great flowing football.
Inside three minutes of the restart, FC has another goal disallowed when a freekick found Jones who finished well, sadly from an offside position.
Spencer showed why Margy has put his faith in him a few minutes later when a superb curling shot from Ellams was tipped wide by the FC custodian.
The Reds were level just after the hour mark when the ball was crossed into the box and Wolfenden challenged Jackson in the air, the ball dropping to Platt who bundled in for a goal against one of his previous clubs.
FC continued to take the game to Celtic, Matthew Wolfenden firing at Jackson, Neville shooting just wide.
There was further controversy on 68 minutes when a ball over saw Norton run towards the box before he was tripped. After a consultation with his assistant, the referee deemed the foul outside the box, though most watching thought it was inside. The resulting Torpey freekick was saved.
The game then saw chances at either end, David Chadwick making a couple of great blocks, Platt putting the ball over the bar from right in front of goal and Norton heading wide from a superb Scott Metcalfe cross.
An incident packed game that was at times both a good and poor advert for non-league football, but FC United can be proud of giving a good game to their neighbours from a league higher.
Report by Steven Wood