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FC United close gap on top three with narrow Stafford victory

FC United close gap on top three with narrow Stafford victoryGoals from Luke Griffiths and Morgan Hamson-Smith gave FC United a vital 2-1 victory over Stafford Rangers in a difficult contest in testing conditions at Broadhurst Park on Tuesday evening.

It was far from a perfect football performance from the Reds, but a vital three points in a tough, competitive fixture could make all the difference as we quickly enter the final nine weeks of the season.

On paper it looked like it should go down as a home win against the team rooted to the bottom of the table, but Stafford came with just one defeat in their last six games and just a look at their team during the line up gave you an idea of their physical presence.

That physical presence led to the opening goal for FC, after a not so subtle challenge by the visiting defence on the edge of their own box. With a tall four man wall that made it difficult to go up and over, Griffiths put his effort around the side of the wall, wrong footing the visiting ‘keeper and putting the Reds a goal to the good on 11 minutes.

However, it wasn’t all FC from that point with the visitors carving out a few opportunities and some nervy looking defending from FC, it was clear that the second goal was going to be vital to how the rest of the game played out.

Just 10 minutes into the second half the visitors equalised, a scrappy goal where FC failed to clear the ball out of the box and Jon Moran poked the ball home.

In the aftermath of the goal there was a silly exchange between Cameron Belford and Stafford’s Danny Burns; who in the heat of the moment threw the ball towards Belford’s face. Burns missed with his petulant throw but the referee quite rightly booked both players for the coming together. Unfortunately for Burns, he had been booked for a cynical challenge in the first half and the second yellow card saw him dismissed.

With the extra man advantage you fancied FC to push on and get the victory, but the truth is that advantage was never really apparent in the final half hour and the visitors became organised and difficult to break down.

The break through; and winning goal, came with just over 10 minutes to go as substitute Hamson-Smith took a great ball from the left down in the box, cut back in on his left and curled the ball into the far post. A beautiful way to seal the three points on what was a scrappy evening on the field.

FC United now travel to Bamber Bridge on Saturday (weather permitting), knowing they are now within two points of second and third placed Basford and Lancaster (with games in hand), and just six points off leaders South Shields, having played a game less and with a visit to the North East just over two weeks away.

Website man of the match: Adam Dodd. Had a good game in testing conditions, looked comfortable when called on defensively and always looked confident coming forward at every opportunity.

First Posted ~ 10:08 Wed 19 Feb 2020
News ID ~ 8640
Last Updated ~ 17:00 Fri 19 Feb 2021