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The North West???s Best

FC United’s talented youth team won their second piece of silverware in a week with a 5-0 win over Stalybridge Celtic in the North West Youth Alliance League Premiership Play Off final on Sunday 10th May.

The NWYA League was split into two separate premiership leagues and a first division, due to the amount of teams wanting to play in the NWYA. It is by far the best under 18s league in the north of England. It was decided that the top two teams from each premier league would qualify for a play-off competition to see who the best team was. After Stalybridge beat Nantwich and FC United beat Marine in the semi finals, it was down to FC United and Stalybridge in the final.

The FC United under 18s team has only lost three times this season in the Premiership B league and finished in the top two to qualify. This was the biggest game of the season for the young reds, and United started at a very fast pace - they like to pressurise the opposition early to put them on the back foot.

The pressure mounted and when a high Jack Lyons cross/shot looped in over the Bridge keeper the writing was on the wall. That was followed by a thunderbolt of a shot from 30 yards from midfield hardman John Buckley to leave the score 2-0 after just 22 minutes.

Jamie Mack had a chance to make it 3-0 but the league’s top scorer had been in a lean period, having not scored in four games, and hit the keeper when one-on-one. Macca is a class act and those watching knew one goal would put him back on track. Soon after Jack Lyons was crudely brought down in the box but the referee missed it, to leave the score 2-0 at the break.

At half time we told the lads that the game was by no means over and the next goal was crucial. We talked about getting out of the blocks quick, not letting Bridge get a foothold in the game, keeping our discipline and trying to nick an early goal. Within a minute of the restart Andy Lee fed Ash Reece, he pulled the ball back to John Buckley who checked inside on his left foot and bent the ball high into the top corner of the net from 20 yards.

Two minutes later a Barry Davies through-ball was latched on to by Jamie Mack, who finally slipped into goal scoring mode as he rounded the keeper to tap the ball home and put United in 4-0 dreamland. It was all FC with every battle and challenge won. The ginger ninja Mark Reeves was at the heart of the FC team pulling all the strings and his discipline was tested to the full when, in sheer frustration, a Stalybridge midfielder took a cheap shot punching him in the face and breaking one of his teeth. Reevesy went down and the lads rallied around as the ref and his assistant consulted. There was to be only one outcome - Stalybridge were down to 10 men and losing 4-0. Reevesy had to be replaced, not because he was knocked out, but he was already on a booking and the 5ft 5ins centre midfielder may have miss-timed a tackle in the remainder of the game and missed the final fixture of the season.

Tim Marshall replaced Reevesy and he broke up a Stalybridge attack, before helping the ball forward where it was cut out by ex-United youth player Perry Johnson. John Buckley had read the situation and nipped in to steal the ball off Johnson on the half way line before breaking away. Macca came from nowhere to nick the ball off JB’s toes and he rounded the keeper to score his second of the game. JB didn’t know whether to laugh or cry about it. It was 5-0 to a rampant FC United and Stalybridge couldn’t wait for the final whistle.

Macca picked up the cup and Nick Swirad was named man of the match and everyone who has seen the under 18s this season will agree that both lads have had a fantastic season, as have the whole squad. In the last week we have played unbeaten Marine in Liverpool and beat them 2-1. This followed the 2-1 win over Nantwich in the NWYA Neil Thomason Cup final at Woodley on Thursday. These victories have secured FC United’s position as the best youth team in the North West, at the very least.

There are still 2 games to go for the talented youth team. The Manchester FA Under 18s County Cup final on May 24th at Ayrshire Road, Salford and the friendly at Daisy Hill on Saturday 16th May, kick off 3pm. The matches are a chance to show your appreciation to this season’s successful Youth Team for all the hard work they have put in on behalf of the club.

Finally many thanks to all the supporters who came to watch us, even on derby day, and particularly Brian who gave up his Old Trafford ticket to watch FC United youth. Thanks to you all.

A very proud FC United under-18s coach Pete Freakes

Click here for match day photos

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First Posted ~ 15:13 Mon 11 May 2009
News ID ~ 2248
Last Updated ~ 17:14 Fri 11 Oct 2013