FC United finished 2019 in third place in the Bet Victor Northern Premier Division after Michael Donohue scored a last minute winner to beat Ashton United 2-1 in a closely fought encounter at Hurst Cross on Saturday afternoon.
Regan Linney won and scored a penalty with 13 minutes remaining to send the Reds on their way. Aaron Smith volleyed home an equaliser 10 minutes later before FC United snatched all three points at the death.
Donohue came off the bench to produce the winner as his cross-cum-shot crept past goalkeeper Greg Hartley, who was distracted by striker Tunde Owolabi’s attempt to turn in the winger’s cross field ball.
It looked like Owolabi may have got the faintest of touches on it for his 24th of the season and he was originally credited with the goal. However, after the match, the league’s top scorer magnanimously admitted he didn’t connect with it and Donohue was awarded the goal retrospectively.
What we know for definite is that Donohue’s fantastic ball into the corridor of uncertainty may not have been helped physically into the net by Owolabi, but his presence and attempt to play the ball completely distracted Hartley - and that resulted in the goal. Teamwork in action.
In an end-to-end tussle, FC United goalkeeper Cameron Belford kept the scores level several times with numerous saves. It was arguably the former Bury shot-stopper’s best performance for FC United since signing on loan from Nuneaton.
He could do nothing about the Robins’ equaliser. The hosts’ man of the match, fullback John Lufudu exposed United down the right wing before cutting inside to cross for Smith to finish with aplomb.
At one point, it looked like the game might have finished goalless. Both sides had first half goals correctly disallowed; Ashton for offside and United for handball by Owolabi.
The next best chance of the match then came three minutes into the second half when Owolabi rattled the crossbar with a header from six yards out.
But in the end, it didn’t matter. Ashton leftback Stephen Rigby was sent off for tripping Finlay Sinclair-Smith on the edge of the box in the 90th minute and United took full advantage. The free-kick was initially blocked by the wall but the ball was worked out wide to Donohue, who whipped in the winner to the far corner. Scenes!
Website man of the match: Cameron Belford. Kept FC United in the match during some sustained Ashton pressure.