Tom Greaves scored a stoppage time equaliser as FC United drew 3-3 at Ilkeston on Saturday afternoon in a topsy-turvy game, which saw the Reds lead twice before coming back at the death to claim a point.
Greg Daniels broke the deadlock for Karl Marginson’s side seven minutes before half-time after some superb football but Ilkeston drew level six minutes after the interval. Greaves then edged United in front with 18 minutes to go with a well taken goal but Ilkeston hit back instantly from the restart and again moments later to make in 3-2 with 10 minutes to go.
Just when it looked like United were heading for defeat, Greaves popped up with his second of the match to rescue a priceless point on the road, much to the joy of the travelling Red army.
The day began with the game in doubt; however as FC United supporters travelled to Derbyshire, the announcement was made that the match would be played and by three o’clock on Saturday, 974 had turned up at the New Manor Ground and for any neutral in attendance, a good game of football ensued.
In this, FC United’s first playable fixture of 2014, only one change was made to the side that started at Buxton in that new signing, Dave Carnell, made his debut, making the keeper the fifth player to take his place between the United sticks this season. Tom Davies also made his last appearance prior to the commencement of a two-match suspension.
The Reds made a strong start, passing well, despite the bobble of the pitch, and were looking to go forward. Astley Mulholland was proving to be a good outlet down the left for United and his cross at the dead ball line almost threatened to test goalkeeper Ross Etheridge, however the ball met with the top of the net.
After 12 minutes, James Reid provided Ilkeston’s first shot on target. Following a quick break, the striker tested Carnell who dealt with the attempt well.
Mulholland again looked to press, and this time played a lovely ball through to Matthew Wolfenden who’d drifted inside. Wolfenden found himself in a good position to shoot, however Ilkeston’s keeper was first to the ball.
In the next couple of minutes, it was Che Adams who came close again for the hosts. Reid crossed from the left and both Adams and Gary Ricketts were in the crowded area. Adams latched onto the loose ball and shot across the face of goal.
As the half came to a close, FC United took the lead with an excellently worked goal which started with Davies and culminated in Daniels’ opener on 39 minutes. Liam Brownhill received the ball on the left from Davies and tried to go past Cheye Alexander. Although the defender did manage to get a touch, the ball fell to Callum Byrne in plenty of space who played it forward to Wolfenden. One-touch football was the key and Wolfenden found Norton on the 18 yard line who in turn played into the path of Daniels. The forward had made a great run and hit first time from inside the area to make it 1-0.
Just as United had rounded off the first half, poor defending saw them concede early in the second. Tyrell White picked up a throw down the right line to come inside and pass to Reid who flicked the ball beyond Carnell to level the score as the FC defence looked on.
The home side were looking dangerous going forward and FC United were having much less space to play the ball. Daniels and Mulholland did both have shots on goal, however both were off target.
Half-time substitute, Tom Greaves, did have the ball in the net after a headed connection with Mulholland’s cross but the officials adjudged the striker to be offside.
The Reds were riding their luck a little at the back, but Greaves was on the lookout for a chance to score at the opposite end of the park. Byrne played a great ball to Greaves between two defenders and the forward lifted the ball towards goal. His effort unfortunately was just wide.
FC’s second change was the introduction of Nelson Mota in place of Wolfenden. Shortly afterwards, Greaves got his first goal of the game and United’s second. A link-up between Daniels and Greaves saw the former thread the ball through to the substitute and as the flag stayed down, Greaves took his chance well.
United’s celebrations were short-lived because just three minutes later Ilkeston equalised once more. Ryan Wilson crossed from the left and Carnell inadvertently helped the ball onto Reid at the far side who half-volleyed into the net with the keeper off his line.
Mulholland’s great cross into Greaves set the striker up for a free header just over the bar. Mulholland then made way for Matthew Walywn who came into the game shortly before his side fell behind for the first time. Davies tried to head Ilkeston’s corner clear, but captain Joe Maguire got there first and headed the ball forward. With the United defence in disarray, Carnell’s punched clearance fell back to Maguire who hit the ball into the roof of the net with ten minutes to go.
Having been ahead twice, the Reds had to at least salvage a point from the game and it looked like Walwyn’s effort, which forced a good save from Etheridge, would be the closest they would come.
Nevertheless, Marginson’s side proved it’s not over until the final whistle sounds and managed to grab a third in stoppage time. Daniels played the ball in and Walwyn had the slightest of touches to knock it onto Greaves who fired home.
FC United were able to hold on until full time and although on paper to take the lead twice and only come away with a draw may look disappointing, the Reds must be pleased with a point on the road. Ten days is now the wait until the next game which is a league cup tie at Ossett Town.
Website Man of the Match: Tom Greaves – although only playing one half, Greaves had a big impact on the game and contributed two thirds of United’s goals.
Report by Victoria Fullen