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Rudd off the mark in opening day success

FC United fought hard on Merseyside to kick-off the new season in the North West Counties Division One with maximum points beating St Helens Town FC 2-0. Peter Moulds reports from Knowsley Road.

Town, who finished eighth in the First Division last season, made United fight all the way with a solid rearguard defence, and it wasn’t until the final quarter of an hour that the visitors scored the goals that the travelling support demanded.

The Reds had plenty of chances in the first-half as they peppered the St Helens goal with shot after shot; Stuart Rudd coming closest with a 10th minute pile-driver which hit the crossbar with the home ’keeper Ray Clifton stranded.

And in the 26th minute, Rudd set up a great chance for Alex Mortimer whose looping effort was expertly tipped over the bar by Clifton.

But the biggest cheer of the half was when the Bolton Wanderers flag, which was being prominently displayed at the pavilion end, was unceremoniously ’removed’.

As the second half progressed in a similar fashion to the first half, St Helens Town were increasingly pressed back in their own half, as United looked to score the opener. The best chance seemed to have been a scorching 25 yard free-kick in the 69th minute from Rory Patterson that was saved at the second attempt by Clifton.

But just when it looked as if a goal might never come, the hardworking Rudd dispossessed a home defender on the edge of the penalty area on 77 minutes, and Simon Carden ghosted through the home defence to stroke the ball home from 12 yards out, to send the travelling support into raptures of delight.

And in the 86th minute, United’s number 9 deservedly got his own name on the score-sheet and opened his goal scoring account for the club in his first competitive game.

A William Ahern shot hit the foot of the post only to rebound clear and when the loose ball was played back into the goal area from the right hand side, Rudd was on-hand to steer the ball home from close range, as the ball trickled into the goal off the same post that Ahern had just struck seconds earlier.

Final score: St. Helens Town FC 0 - 2 FC United of Manchester

Match information:

St Helens Town
2) Jay McKANE
5) Tommy BODEN
6) John HALPIN (Captain)
7) Adie REILLY
8) Michael OWENS
11) Kevin HANNON
12) Mark WESTWORTH (Sub for No. 10 - 66 mins)
14) Joe McKANE (Sub for No. 8 - 78 mins)
15) Stephen DUFFY (Not used).

Cautioned: Chris Sheppard (71 mins) for a trip on Rory Patterson and John Halpin (83 mins) for a trip on Stuart Rudd.

FC United of Manchester
2) Matt TAYLOR
4) Steve SPENCER
5) David CHADWICK (Captain)
6) Robert NUGENT
7) Rhodri GIGGS
8) Will AHERN
9) Stuart RUDD
12) Steve SMITH (Sub for No. 4 - 87 mins)
14) Liam COYNE (Sub for No. 9 - 90 mins)
15) Simon CARDEN (Sub for No. 7 - 65 mins)

Referee: Mr. W D Smallwood (Northwich).
Attendance: 1,723
FC United man-of-the-match: Stuart Rudd - led the line bravely, and on another day, could easily have grabbed a hat-trick.

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First Posted ~ 20:29 Sat 12 Aug 2006
News ID ~ 440
Last Updated ~ 17:34 Fri 11 Oct 2013