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FC United record first ever victory over Rushall Olympic

A Dean Stott penalty just before the hour mark secured FC United’s first ever goal and victory over Rushall Olympic at the fourth attempt on Saturday afternoon at Dales Lane.

After a fairly even first half, where the hosts had had the better of the chances, Stott made no mistake from the spot - sending goalkeeper Chris Gemmell the wrong way following a careless handball by Mitchell Tolley.

The single goal was all FC United needed to move within two points of confirming third place with one game to go but Rushall could and should have snatched an equaliser in stoppage time when striker Gavin Caines powered a back post header agonisingly wide for the hosts.

Manager Karl Marginson took advantage of the fact that the Reds had already qualified for the play-offs to shuffle his pack - giving welcome rests to some familiar faces and valuable game time to players who have been waiting patiently in the wings.

The strategy came with risks against a side who needed to gain three wins out of three to secure the final play-off place but Margy had every right to trust his squad to get the job done.

The manager had vowed before the match that his side would put in a ’workman-like’ performance and that’s exactly what they did against a physically big and strong Olympic side. It was a solid and succesful performance by the Reds but one that needed the new-look reguard to be at its best.

Goalkeeper Jon Worsnop was the stand-out player for the visitors making several acrobatic saves, whilst teenage debutant Kevin Masirika - on loan from Rochdale - looked confident and assured at the back. The FC United faithful will have been pleased to see the youngster winning numerous aerial battles whilst also marshalling his more senior fellow defenders where necessary.

What won’t have pleased the Reds is that it took them until the 29th minute to get a shot on target, which occurred when Michael Norton picked up a throughball by Jerome Wright before cutting inside to fire hard and low into Gemmell’s hands. However, with Rushall seemingly intent on getting the ball in the air as much as possible to play to their strengths, it was always going to be difficult for United to get the ball on the deck to play the kind of football they prefer to.

It was five minutes later that Worsnop was first called upon to perform some heroics. The former Worksop ’keeper made a superb double save; first fisting away an unexpected drive from the right-wing by fullback Kyle Haynes and then, when United failed to clear the loose ball, he had to display his agility to tip a David Walker piledriver, which looked destined for the top left corner, over the bar.

Down at the other end, the Reds did have a few half chances most notably when Gemmell had to punch away a Scott Cheetham free-kick at the near post but it was Rushall who will feel they should have taken a lead into the interval. Worsnop came to the rescue again five minutes before the break with a diving save to tip Caines’ header round the post from a dangerous corner.

Into the second half and United began to kick-on. Stott nearly broke the deadlock three minutes after the restart but Matthew Walwyn accidentally deflected his low, hard drive wide of the post when it appeared to be en route to the back of the net.

Ten minutes later, Matthew Tierney managed to clear the clubhouse with an ambitious curling effort from the edge of the box before some good build up play saw United win the decisive penalty. Jerome Wright and substitute Tom Greaves, on at half-time for Norton, worked the ball into the box well and as Cheetham tried to keep the attack moving on the by-line, Tolley foolishly used his upper arm to shield the ball.

Tierney nearly doubled the lead with just over ten minutes to go when he saw his header saved from a Lee Neville free-kick but, in fairness, it was Rushall who should have got the second goal of the game.

With five minutes to go, Masirika did well to block Ahmed Obeng’s fierce shot with a sliding challenge, after the Rushall striker had wriggled free from both Kyle Jacobs and Stott. And then right at the death, only Gavin Caines will know how he managed to slam his unmarked back post header across goal and wide when he had the goal at his mercy.

Man of the match: Jon Worsnop - made several outstanding saves to keep FC United in the game, particularly in the first half when it was goalless, and kept his fifth clean-sheet in eight games.

Report by Matthew Haley

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First Posted ~ 18:05 Sat 27 Apr 2013
News ID ~ 4873
Last Updated ~ 02:50 Mon 29 Apr 2013