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FC United clinch priceless victory at Hednesford full report

FC United stepped up their promotion push by claiming a vital three points at third placed Hednesford Town on Saturday afternoon courtesy of a 2-1 win with first half goals from Adam Jones and Lee Neville.

Whatever manager Karl Marginson said in his pre-match teamtalk clearly worked because the Reds came flying out of the blocks like a steamtrain and were 2-0 up inside 13 minutes. A lead which would prove just enough to seal victory.

There was an atmosphere of celebration in Keys Park before a ball had even been kicked with the vast majority of the 1,228 supporters in attendance in party mood following the announcement that the FC United faithful has raised an incredible £1.6 million in community shares.

The players, clearly pumped up, responded to the support in emphatic fashion, over running the Pitmen in every department and visibly rattling their usually assured defence.

It took just two minutes for United to get their win underway. Neville sent over a superb corner for the towering Jones to powerfully head the ball into the back of the net. Jones almost doubled the lead five minutes later with another header but this fell safely into the hands of Dan Crane.

On 12 minitues, a great FC move saw the ball fall to Matthew Wolfenden who saw his shot tipped wide. Wolfenden took the corner short to Stephen Johnson who crossed for Neville and the left-back flicked the ball off the back of his head into the far corner of the net to double the lead.

The game was relentless FC pressure with the Pitmen backline struggling to stem the tide. Wolfenden beat the offside trap and tried to lob Crane but the keeper advanced well to smother his shot with his chest before clutching the ball to safety.

Wolfenden was a constant threat to the home side and he should have made the game safe on 22 minutes when he ran from halfway with the ball, rounded Crane but lofted his shot over the empty net from a tight angle.

It took until five minutes before the break for the home side to have an attempt at the FC goal. Jones and Greg Stones got in each others way to allow Andre Landell in but his shot flew over the bar.

It was a strong half from FC and if the truth be told, the lead should have been greater than two goals.

The Pitmen made a triple change at the break and this seemed to have the desired effect as they had FC on the back foot from the whistle. Fewer than five minutes after the restart, Jamey Osborne fired in a free-kick that James Spencer tipped wide.

From the resultant corner, Ben Jevons headed over. Shorty before the hour mark, the lead was halved, when a corner from the left was headed in by Jermaine Johnson.

The FC goal was leading a charmed life, Landell seeing a shot from out wide saved by Spencer and an almighty scramble on the goal line eventually seeing the ball cleared.

The lead was almost extended from a rare FC sortie into the Pitmen box when a corner was headed by Jones but cleared off the line and then Mike Norton fired the rebound wide after seeing his initial effort blocked.

On 78 minutes, the game saw its first major controversial moment when the ball seemed to strike the hand of Stones who was lying on the floor, the referee was perfectly placed to turn down the appeals, presumably he deemed the contact as accidental, this was a let off for The Reds.

The decision seemed to aggrieve the home side who seemed to lose their heads. The officials were in the spotlight again two minutes later when Neville seemed to be caught in the face as he chased a loose ball. However, neither the referee or his assistants saw anything.

Two minutes later, the same treatment was handed out in the Hednesford half and after a consultation with his assistant, the referee sent Mark Beesley from the pitch. The aftermath of this incident also saw the home manager sent to the stands for his protests.

When the football resumed, it was again the home side who were in the ascendancy and in the sixth minute of stoppage time a shot by Chris Shaw was tipped wide by Spencer. The corner was met by a Pitmen head and again Spencer stepped up and tipped the ball wide. To the relief of the travelling players and support, there was no time for the corner as the referee blew for full-time.

This was a vital victory for FC United, one that seemed plain sailing in the first half but needed a backs to the wall job in the second half to see out the game and claim the three points.

Man of the Match- Adam Jones. He just edges out James Spencer for his opening goal and general coolness and marshalling of the defence in a second half where the home side were on top.

Report by Steven Wood

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First Posted ~ 11:04 Sun 18 Mar 2012
News ID ~ 4114
Last Updated ~ 11:04 Sun 18 Mar 2012