FC United hearts were broken as Bradford Park Avenue grabbed a last minute 1-0 winner in extra time to secure promotion into the Conference North.
It was the cruellest of blows for the United players and fans, who had given it their all on an afternoon where victory held such significance but, as was the case in Colwyn Bay a year ago, it wasn’t to be for the men in red.
The Reds came into the game with a late change in between the sticks as James Spencer, who has been ever present in this season’s league campaign, was replaced by Jon Worsnop after Spencer had injured his finger working on Saturday.
But the Reds weren’t put off by the change and began the game brightly, quick into the tackles and for the most part looking the better of the two teams.
As is often the case with finals, the game became a little tentative and the football didn’t flow as freely as would usually be the case between these two teams. But that didn’t put the crowd off, who despite their limited numbers for ‘safety reasons’ were of a fine voice all the way through.
The best opportunity of the opening period fell to Michael Norton in the box; whose quick shot in the box deflected off an Avenue defender and creeped just wide of the home team’s goal.
In the second half it was the home team who looked the more likely to score and they had large amounts of possession in the second 45 minutes putting United on the back foot and forcing the Reds into high long balls up the pitch, which were noticeably frustrating manager Karl Marginson on the sidelines.
United had two great opportunities to open the scoring firstly when Carlos Roca fired a free-kick just over the Avenue bar and then Jake Cottrell fired from outside the box and forced a great touch over the bar from Avenue ‘keeper John Lamb.
Margy moved to put Nicky Platt and Astley Mulholland on for Roca and Johnson, in a bid to bolster the midfield and add some fresh legs to the front line. But as the game drew on you got the feeling it was going to be settled by one goal or even the dreaded penalty shootout.
Bradford had a fine opportunity to grab a winner late on as a ball across the box was dragged across goal but Adam Jones hoofed the ball away showing the desire United would need as the game went into an extra 30 minutes.
At the end of normal time the players looked tired and out on their feet, but then the fans came into life just before extra time kicked off and this proved as an adrenaline shot for the Reds who began brightly in stoppage time and came out on the attack.
But despite their best early efforts coming forward there was no way through for the Reds who looked like they needed the rest after the first 15 minutes was up, as the flow of the game returned to Bradford’s favour.
The second half of extra time again followed the same pattern as most of the game as both teams had good spells but nothing substantial and it looked as though the game was heading for a nerve wrecking finale in the form of penalties.
But it was to be an even crueller blow than losing out in a shoot-out for United as a ball fired across the edge of the six yard box was bundled home by Tom Greaves to put Avenue a goal up and leave Untied no time what so ever to find a reply.
It was in all honesty a crushing blow for United who for the second year running were denied promotion by a single goal in a game that was a 50/50 affair all the way through.
Every man, woman, dog, blow-up doll and toy meerkat put their all into the game and it was fiiting that the red army went on the pitch to console with their red shirted hereos and thank them for another hard fought campaign. Being beaten right at the end was a cruel way to lose but the red flag will fly high once more.
Website man of the match: Adam Jones – capped off a great first season with a solid performance from the back, put 100% into the game today; as did everybody else, and didn’t deserve to be on the losing team.
Report by Craig Phillips
|News ID ~ 4228 || First Posted ~ 13:10 Wed 9 May 2012 || Last Updated ~ 13:10 Wed 9 May 2012|
|Football Club United of Manchester, Hope Mill, 113 Pollard Street, Ancoats, Manchester M4 7JA|
|FC United Office Email - email@example.com|
|FC United Office Fax - 0161 273 7598
||Club Information Line - 0844 745 1958|
|FC United Office Phone - 0161 273 8950
||Free Text Message Service - 07786 200 353|
|Copyright (c) 2005-2013 FC United of Manchester (except fixtures, tables and images used by kind permission of their respective rights holders). All rights reserved.