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United earn point at Irongate

FC United earned a point in a hard fought game that could have gone either way against top of the table Bamber Bridge in front of 1,236 supporters at the Irongate Ground.

In what was quite an even and physical match, the Reds got their tails up in the second half when the hosts were reduced to ten men but they couldn’t make the advantage pay and instead had to settle for a draw as the two best defences in the division held firm.

It was a fair result and had it not been for some superb saves from on loan goalkeeper Aaron Grundy, United could easily have suffered their second defeat of the season to Brig after being comprehensively beaten at Irongate 3-0 in November.

It was clear right from the off that there was to be no repeat of that day though as the Reds came out of the blocks the fastest and signalled that their game plan, as usual, was to attack. They fired an early warning in the first minute when a Simon Carden header was blocked on the goal-line by Brig centre-half Adam Tong following a terrific cross from the right by Jamie Baguley.

Less than 10 minutes later Carden went close again, having another effort cleared off the line, this time by Ryan Bowen after he’d connected with a Jerome Wright cross.

United were keeping Brig goalkeeper Terry McCormick busy and midway through the first half he had to pull off a fine save to push Rory Patterson’s goal bound free-kick onto the bar. The waves of attacks must have flustered McCormick as he appeared to forget how to tie his bootlaces causing a minute or so delay to the game, which unsurprisingly thwarted the visitors’ growing momentum.

Once the game had restarted, it was Brig who nearly broke the deadlock with the league’s third top scorer Ryan Salmon looking for his 26th goal of the season. Alex Porter whipped a free-kick in and Salmon leapt like his namesake to head the ball goalwards but Bury’s teenage shot stopper Grundy made a fantastic reflex save to push it round the post.

Moments later Grundy was called into the action again. Coming slightly more into the game as the half wore on, Brig came forward and when United failed to clear their lines there was an almighty goalmouth scramble. With Grundy on the ground the ball was bundled towards the empty net but somehow the youngster managed to get back up, snatch it out of the air and safely hold on.

The best chance of the match came shortly before half time and it fell to exactly the man United fans would want it to - Patterson. Stuart Rudd was dominating the aerial battles, something Margy’s team has missed with his absence, and it was his flick-on that fell to the Irishman about 25 yards out. Still with two defenders to beat, United’s top scorer turned them one way and then the other, McCormick committed himself and Patterson pulled the trigger. He looked certain to score but somehow his low, hard shot went past the left post.

With the game evenly poised, it looked like one of two title contenders might pull off a smash and grab in the second half. But when Matt Mahoney was dismissed following a reckless challenge on Wright just before the hour mark the match swung in United’s favour.

Carden had another effort clawed off the line and Nicky Platt whipped in a series of dangerous corners. However, despite being reduced to ten men, Brig stood firm. The Reds were guilty of punting too many hopeful long balls forward which were easily dealt with by the impressive Glenn Steel and Adam Tong at the back.

And the hosts nearly stole the three points deep into injury time when Dave Eaton snuck in unmarked at the far post in an attempt to guide Porter’s cross home. However, Grundy was there again to finger-tip the ball away to safety.

United now face Nantwich Town in the President’s Cup Quarter Final on Monday night and they will be hoping to get all three points when they meet Brig on home soil next Saturday at Youth United Day.

FC United
A Grundy
L Foster (cautioned 45(+2))
B Howard (cautioned 60)
N Platt
D Chadwick (capt)
R Nugent
J Baguley
S Carden
S Rudd (cautioned 60)
J Wright
R Patterson (cautioned 67)
Subs
C Baguley (for 3 88)

A Carden
N Robinson (for 7 78)

Scorers:

Bamber Bridge
T McCormick
M Mahoney (cautioned 45(+1), sent off 58)
R Bowen
G Steel
A Tong
M Edmeads
S Brown
D Mahoney
R Salmon
D Eaton
A Porter
Subs
T Ince (for 8 46)

N Spencer
A Glover


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First Posted ~ 16:45 Sun 24 Feb 2008
News ID ~ 1504
Last Updated ~ 12:20 Mon 21 May 2018