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FC United close the gap with late Ilkeston show

FC United close the gap with late Ilkeston show

FC United closed the gap on title rivals North Ferriby United and Hednesford Town with a 1-0 victory over Ilkeston, thanks to a late, monstrous, headed goal by centre-back Adam Jones.

With league leaders North Ferriby losing 1-0 at home to Fylde and Hednesford’s game with Blyth Spartans postponed due to a frozen pitch, the Reds made ground on the front two. It took until eight minutes from time for United to grab their eighth consecutive league victory when Jones rose above a crowded penalty area to slam a Lee Neville cross into the top left corner from 12 yards out. It was a victory of the narrowest of margins but another one Karl Marginson’s side thoroughly deserved.

The Reds began brightly but were soon hit hard as Jerome Wright had to limp off the pitch holding the back of his leg, hopefully nothing too bad for United’s winger with the end of season coming up. But on came Astley Mulholland; who put in a great performance, and United looked dangerous from the off forcing opposition ‘keeper Chris Martin into several good saves. United looked nailed on to take the lead when Mike Norton raced clear of the opposition defence, but Martin saved well from the United marksman, and saw the ball clear.

The visitors were more than holding their own though and looked more than dangerous throughout the afternoon, going close when James Spencer had to produce a spectacular save from a header in the box, just an example of the threat the much bigger visiting side offered all afternoon. Chances came in quick succession for United as Martin again foiled Norton’s attempt, before Matthew Wolfenden fired just over the bar, an Martin also moved to annoy Tom Greaves by managing to stop his effort just minutes later.

Mulholland looked to have opened the scoring in spectacular fashion as he fired the ball into the top corner only to see his effort ruled out for offside in the build-up. The two teams came out for the second half level but both looked dangerous in the opening minutes of the second half, giving the game a real cup tie feel as both were looking for the three points.

Despite some early efforts and a five minute period of pressure midway through the second half from the visitors, it became more and more clear as the game wore on that if any team was going to win the match it would be the men in red. Wave after wave off pressure forced the visitors into conceding quite a few corners in the second half, but given their extra height and physical presence in the box they were rarely troubled from the majority of corners.

Although ‘keeper Martin again had to pull out another great save to deny Wolfenden’s goal bound header, as it seemed that Martin would deny United a victory in what was a superb performance by the man in yellow.

As United broke out from the back once more, a late challenge was put in on skipper Kyle Jacobs, which saw Gary Ricketts booked and Laurie Wilson was given his marching orders for a second yellow for something obviously said in the aftermath of the challenge. With the visitors on the ropes, United had to go in for the kill if they were going to get the three points they deserved. With less than ten minutes left, the Reds finally got the better of the resolute Ilkeston rear-guard. Good build up play saw Wolfenden link up with Jacobs and Neville before Neville curled a ball towards the penalty spot. Jones stormed in between four players and rose well to head the ball past Martin to send the United faithful into pandemonium.

There were chances after this for United to double the lead but, as the minutes passed by, the Reds played it sensible, running the ball into the corner and running the clock down to get the three points against one of the better teams that have visited us this season and make it eight consecutive league victories.

Victory moves United to within six points of second with a game in hand, and after a surprise home defeat to AFC Fylde, top side North Ferriby now find themselves just 10 points clear with the Reds having four games in their favour as the two teams meet next Sunday at Bower Fold.

Man of the match: Astley Mulholland – Came off the bench early to replace Wright and duly filled those boots with what was one of his best performances in a Red shirt.

Report by Craig Phillips

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First Posted ~ 17:16 Sat 23 Feb 2013
News ID ~ 4749
Last Updated ~ 00:18 Wed 27 Feb 2013