FC United fought back to beat Radcliffe Borough 3-2 at Broadhurst Park on New Year’s Day in front of 2,124 supporters with goals from Michael Potts and Tunde Owolabi.
The visitors led 1-0 at halftime in a feisty encounter but the Reds showed composure and character to overcome their opponents to record their seventh consecutive victory. The result means that FC United remain in third place in the Bet Victor Northern Premier Division.
Before the game, manager Neil Reynolds had said the match up against local rivals, who were level on points with us, was the biggest test of the season to date. During the match the character of his team was indeed tested.
For most of the first half it looked like FC United were the team in control of what was looking to be an even game, but having said that there wasn’t a dominance to the game and Boro set their stall out early with a physical - and it could be argued often cynical - approach to defending.
The visitors took the lead after 36 minutes, as they capitalised on a poor clearance by goalkeeper Cameron Belford, who looked to have made up for the error with a point blank save, but that left Tyrese Sinclair with a simple tap in from less than a yard out.
A goal which Sinclair seemed to enjoy celebrating in front of the St Mary’s Road End (SMRE), a move which could always prove to be costly when there’s only one goal in the game and plenty of time left to turn it around.
FC United almost responded immediately, going close from on attack from kick off and then seeing a great shout for a penalty turned away; not for the last time on the day, by the referee.
Attacking a riled up SMRE and obviously fired up by Reno at the break, the Reds came to the field in the second half and showed the character of the team by dominating the majority of the second 45 minutes.
Two penalty shouts that even VAR would have struggled to find a way out of early in the half got the crowd and players even more fired up and at this point FC turned the screw, knowing the best way to do their talking was by playing football.
Just after the hour mark, the Reds levelled things up, with captain Potts charging forward from midfield to knock home a low hard cross in at the near post. At this point the game was there for FC United.
Relentless wave after wave of attacks meant that the visiting defence didn’t have time to breath. The atmosphere in the 2,100 plus crowd building with each attack.
Just four minutes after Potts had equalised the Reds took the lead when Owolabi’s effort towards goal was scuffed into his own net by defender Javid Swaby-Neavin.
Although the intensity sloped off a little after the second goal, FC still kept looking for a third that would surely kill the game off. December player of the month Regan Linney will still be wondering how he put his header over from two yards out, but the Reds kept coming looking for a third.
In the 90th minute, Owolabi got the better clear of his man and found himself one-on-one with Boro ‘keeper Martin Oliver.The striker made no mistake, driving the ball low into the net for his 25th goal of the season, making it 3-1 and surely sealing the three points for the Reds.
This being FC United though, things weren’t quite that simple. Boro raced up the opposite end and grabbed a second goal, with one of only a handful of opportunities they’d put together in the second half and the last four minutes of added time suddenly became a bit nervy.
But the Reds defence stood firm and picked up the three points, closing the gap on second placed Lancaster to just one point, with FC United having played two games less.
The win is the seventh in row in all competitions and carries on an unbeaten run that now stretches 14 games and all the way back to the middle of October. Next up for FC United is another short away trip to Hyde United, as the Reds look for revenge for an early season 2-1 defeat.
Website man of the match – Finlay Sinclair-Smith: made his first start for the club after a few impressive cameos from the bench and looked to confuse the visiting defence every time he had the ball, with impressive runs and confidence on the ball.
Report by Craig Phillips