|Opposition||Stocksbridge Park Steels|
|Venue||Gigg Lane, Bury, BL9 9HR, Gigg Lane|
|Competition||EvoStik League Premier Division|
|3 (1)||-||0 (0)|
|Wolfenden 39, 49, 84|| |
|1 James Spencer|
2 Kyle Jacobs (capt)
3 Lee Neville
4 Jake Cottrell
5 Adam Jones
6 Greg Stones
7 Carlos Roca
8 Matthew Wolfenden
9 Mike Norton
10 Dean Stott
11 Stephen Johnson
12 Nick Platt (for 4, 76 mins)
14 Daniel Grimshaw (for 8, 86 mins)
16 Astley Mulholland (for 7, 72 mins)
|1 B Scott |
2 D Weston
3 M Whitehouse
4 R Haigh
5 B Renshaw
6 A Tansley
7 A Callery
8 M Telling (capt)
9 J Muldoon
10 S Hogan
11 R Harrison
12 R Stirrup (for 11, 87 mins)
14 A Ring (for 6, 62 mins)
|Matthew Wolfenden’s second ever hat-trick for FC United saw the Reds down Stocksbridge Park Steels 3-0 at Gigg Lane on Saturday afternoon, keeping our pursuit of a play-off place alive and kicking.|
United needed to get back to winning ways after a shock 1-0 defeat at Rushall Olympic last Saturday and they did so in style with the former Oldham Athletic forward bagging all three goals.
Lee Neville made his first start at left-back since returning from suspension and was proving an integral part of United’s defence early on, providing a vital block as Stocksbridge’s Scott Hogan found himself in space inside the area.
Winger Stephen Johnson set up a notable chance for FC United, receiving the ball from Neville before beating two defenders on the left flank and picking out Norton at the far post who came agonisingly close to what would have rounded off a promising move for the Reds.
Steels were more than matching United’s performance early on and the Reds were riding their luck defensively, allowing their opponents far too many opportunities to hem them back. One such occasion saw United resolutely defending on the line to deny Richard Haigh.
Moments later, right-back Kyle Jacobs then supplied an excellent ball into Norton and Neville both at the far side of the area, however neither were able to make the connection needed to test Scott.
The Reds were struggling to get a handle on the middle of the park and were frustratingly losing out on the second ball. Hogan leapt upon the chance to seize a loose ball inside his own half and was able to carry it with ease through the midfield before playing in Jack Maldoon and eventually going for goal himself.
Carlos Roca went the closest to scoring before Wolfenden grabbed the first strike of his three goal haul. Roca was able to travel down the outside left channel and beat his man before his final ball hit the cross-bar.
With 38 minutes on the clock, the Reds opened the scoring although the woodwork nearly prevented them again. Norton did well to beat the offside trap, picking up the through ball. The striker had the option of going alone but instead chose to square to Wolfenden whose shot from close range ricocheted of the underside of the cross-bar.
As goalkeeper Ben Scott scrambled to claim the ball, Wolfenden and Norton continued to pressure and somehow the former managed to bundle it over the line to put his side ahead.
Instant Stocksbridge pressure followed and Jacobs made a vital block inside the box to deny an immediate equaliser. Despite leading at the break, United had by no means controlled the first half.
Whatever was discussed in Steels’ half time team talk barely had chance to be put into action as Wolfenden added another to the score sheet just four minutes into the second half. Cottrell picked up the ball outside of the area and delivered a superb pass to Neville who controlled to the by line before cutting back to Wolfenden. The number 8 ran across Scott at the near post and flicked the ball beyond the keeper to double United’s lead.
Chances continued to come for the Reds. With Steels pushing up into United’s half and Scott often lingering off his line; Cottrell opted for a long range effort, perhaps hoping to catch the keeper off guard. In a bright move, Norton pulled off an intelligent back-heel to Stephen Johnson, who, despite having options, chose to drive in a shot himself which met with the side netting.
And six minutes before the end of normal time, Wolfenden
completed his hat-trick. Johnson whipped in a fantastic ball for the forward to finish from point-blank range making it 3-0.
United’s performance on the day was by no means comprehensive and the scoreline perhaps not a fair reflection, taking into account a testing display from the visitors, particularly in the first half. Nevertheless, the result pushes the Reds a vital step closer to the play-off places. With other results swinging in United’s favour, next week’s encounter with Hednesford now looks set to be a pivotal fixture in the run-in.
Website Man of the Match: Matthew Wolfenden – always looked to support the front line and worked well with Norton throughout which helped him bag his second hat-trick for FC United.
Report by Victoria Fullen