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First silverware for FC Youth

The under-18s ensured that there will be some silverware at FC United this season as they beat Nantwich Town 2-1 to lift the Neil Thomason Memorial Cup.

With the much-respected youth team match day secretary Gareth Moore on a pre-booked holiday to New Zealand to learn the Haka, the under-18s did him proud at a windy Woodley Sports.

After the last minute victory, youth coach Peter Freakes paid tribute to Moore, saying: "Our friend and colleague Gareth was devastated to be missing the climax to the season, he has worked so hard for the under-18s. Thanks pal, this one was for you."

The young Reds had just too much for the mighty Nantwich Town - a club that has given the first team a few problems this season. United started the game at a very high tempo, trying to put pressure on Nantwich. That paid off after just five minutes when a beautifully flighted corner by Jake Haslam, dinked into the nearpost, was flicked on by John Buckley and the ball looped over the Nantwich keeper for Josh Burke to power home. What a start.

The FC boys stuck to the pre-match plan and drove forward in waves, knowing another goal would see off Nantwich before they even got going. And we should have scored, but for a combination of snatched finishing and a lack of composure. A superb John Buckley cross from the right was just over Jamie Mack’s head but Jake Haslam read it and nipped in front of his marker, but he missed his header from six metres out. Then Nick Swirad had a shot cleared from a Barry Davies cross. Then Jack Lyons hammered the ball goalwards - it was flying home but it hit Jamie Mack on the line as he just couldn’t get out of the way.

It was all United, but the second goal eluded the reds. Grant Shenton in goal was a virtual spectator till four minutes from half time when he made a top class save as Nantwich broke out and a deft header from close range was pushed wide by the league’s top keeper. Nantwich then hit the bar from the resulting corner - a warning from a team that had been on a fantastic FA Youth Cup run only ended by Everton FC.

The second half was a struggle for the young United lads as Nantwich stepped up their game and the Reds just had to hold on and try to break. FC needed the forwards to hold the ball up and take pressure off the overworked midfield and defence. That didn’t happen and with 12 minutes to go the pressure told, as a Nantwich near-post corner hit United sub Shaun Williams on his chest. Shaun couldn’t react quickly enough and the big Nantwich defender poked the ball home, for what was a deserved equaliser.

United had to wake up and get back in the game. They did when a long Ashley Reece ball was seized upon by Mack as he reached the box the ball popped up and the Nantwich defender handled the ball. Penalty.

Jamie Mack went through his usual routine before the spot kick with a little hesitation on the run up, but the keeper guessed the right way and dived to save. It was devastating for Jamie, who is the league’s top scorer and has been superb this season. His team mates appreciate this and they knew he was gutted and resolved to work harder for Macca. It paid off with extra time looming as the game slipped into the last minute. A John Buckley free kick was whipped in to the near-post and Jack Lyons hooked the ball home. It was a great finish that deserved to win a cup final, and did.

Cue mass celebrations as excellent referee Joe Simpson (son of ex Man City player and now Shrewsbury manager Paul Simpson) blew the final whistle. The cup was picked up by skipper Macca to great cheers from FC United’s wonderful supporters that braved the wind at Woodley.

First team boss Karl Marginson and coach Darren Lyons came in the dressing room at the end to praise the boys for a great performance and got great cheers from the lads.

That is the first trophy the youth team had won in its short history and it hopefully was not the last as the young Reds play another final on Sunday at Ashton Athletic when they face Stalybridge Celtic. It should be a cracker.

By a very proud FC United under-18s coach Pete Freakes.

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First Posted ~ 01:44 Sun 10 May 2009
News ID ~ 2242
Last Updated ~ 17:14 Fri 11 Oct 2013