A spectacular 95th minute equaliser from Charlie Ennis was enough to see FC United take a point away from a difficult and competitive match at Buxton on Saturday afternoon.
The Reds ran out 7-0 winners in the reverse fixture at Broadhurst Park in October, but anybody who thought a similar scoreline was on the cards had to change their minds pretty early on. The home team started the game competitively and never looked overawed by an FC United team, who had won seven straight league games, at any point during the afternoon.
FC lost Alex Curran to injury inside the first 10 minutes, with one of the standout performers of the season stretchered off with what he confirmed on social media late on Saturday evening was a broken leg and an ankle ligament injury. Everybody at FC wishes Alex a speedy recovery from this injury.
Chances were at a premium for FC and the Buxton defence seemed to be first to everything in their defensive third of the pitch, with neither team really gaining an upper hand in the early going.
The home team took the lead after 25 minutes as Diego de Girolamo broke into the left-hand side of the box and slotted the ball under Belford and into the back of the net.
From the off the home team looked like they had a plan when FC had the ball and generally dropped into two banks of five in front of their own box and waited to see what the men in red could do.
FC continued to struggle to make any clear-cut chances, but were level just before the break. Regan Linney was brought down in the box and he dusted himself off to coolly fired home from 12 yards out to make it 1-1.
The first five minutes of the second half came at a frantic pace, with a penalty for the home team within the first minute. The spot-kick was put away by de Girolamo for his second of the game. But Buxton undid that good work with a straight red card to Connor O’Grady for an overzealous challenge on Tunde Owolabi.
FC United had just over 40 minutes remaining against ten men to turn around a 2-1 deficit. You fancied the Reds to get the job done.
What followed was frustrating to say the least, the home team defended resolutely and seemed to snuff out every opportunity that FC produced.
Two goalbound efforts from Owolabi and captain Michael Potts deflected wide for corners. Balls into the box were cleared by the Buxton defence and as the afternoon wore on and the clock ticked closer to the 90-minute mark it seemed that FC would find no way through.
When the board went up for six added minutes you felt that even managing to get a point with such little time left would have to go down as a great result.
The old cliché of a moment of madness or a moment of genius being the only way a goal would go in came into play. Luckily for FC United, Charlie Ennis showed once again that he is capable of the latter as he unleashed a special strike from outside the box that flew into the top corner and levelled things up with just seconds left on the clock.
Before the game you would have maybe fancied an eighth straight win against a team second from bottom, but to take a point away from a game we were seconds away from losing must go down as a good result on reflection.
After the game Reno described the point as “massive in our quest for progression” and it does see us move third in the table and just six points off the leaders South Shields.
The Reds now look ahead to next weekend when Broadhurst Park welcomes back league action as we host Mickleover Sports.
Website man of the match – Charlie Ennis: Difficult and frustrating afternoon for the team, but the standout moment came from the substitute who had the technique to level things up late on.
Report by Craig Phillips