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FC Move another step closer to Division One title

FC moved another step closer to the Division One title on Saturday with a comfortable 4-0 away win over Stone Dominoes. A brace from Rory Patterson and a Jerome Wright strike added to an early own goal to ease United to victory against a spirited, yet ultimately overwhelmed Dominoes’ side at Newcastle Town’s Lyme Valley Stadium in Staffordshire.

After a cagey opening, Patterson twice went close within a couple of minutes, first with a shot straight at the keeper and then again with a strike which flashed just wide of the far post. Suddenly FC were in full flow, and with the home defence working overtime to stem the tide of United’s attacking play, it seemed only a matter of time before the home defences were breached. Josh Howard was looking particularly dangerous, and it was from his incisive play down the inside right channel that the Stone defence finally succumbed, when the suitably-named defender Ashley Flood could only turn a dangerous cross into his own net.

Although Dominoes regrouped well after that setback, a second continued to look on the cards. Stone’s chequered form this season has seen them become firmly rooted to the foot of the table, but as they sought to bridge the gap with those teams just above them, they knew another home defeat would see them dicing dangerously with the drop. This began to look increasingly likely when a flick on by Stuart Rudd was poked home by strike partner Patterson just after the half hour mark.

Shortly afterwards, Jerome Wright ran onto a loose ball and confidently struck the ball beyond the flailing arms of Stone ‘keeper Hall and into the far corner to make it three. The half-time break seemed a welcome relief for the bedraggled Dominoes’ defence, as they sought to avoid a double-blank against United, having been soundly beaten at Gigg Lane earlier in the season.

Patterson started the second half on fire, seeing a shot smartly saved by Hall with the first attack of the half, and moments later smashing an effort against the crossbar. Not be outdone, Rudd set himself up for a clever volley, but with the ‘keeper beaten, United’s big number nine was unlucky to see the ball sail just wide of the post.

It was Patterson though who was next to break through, hitting a sweet 30-yard strike into the roof of the net to make it four-nil, as he looked to make up for his red card in the midweek win at Formby. His team will certainly miss the threat he poses when he serves his latest suspension, but manager Margy has proved in the past that his squad has the depth of quality to cover the loss of first team regulars.

A minute after that fourth goal, it was the home side who saw red, when Wayne Teague was sent off following an elbow on FC full-back Alex Mortimer, who received a yellow card for his challenge in the build up to the incident. Shortly afterwards, Margy made three substitutions, bringing on Liam Foster, Steve Spencer and Rhodri Giggs in place of Mortimer, Taylor and Howard.

Patterson continued to look dangerous, and with Giggs’ fresh legs giving extra impetus to United’s attacking play, it looked as if the Irishman might claim the match ball to round off an eventful week for the prolific striker. As the match moved into its’ final quarter, only the woodwork prevented Patterson claiming his hat-trick, and Rudd also went close with a great headed chance moments later.

Dominoes’ almost nicked a consolation goal late on when the usually-reliable Rob Nugent under-hit a backpass to stand-in ‘keeper John Ogden, but substitute Mills couldn’t find a way past the impressive stopper, who must have been delighted to register a clean sheet on his first-team debut. Margy will have been delighted with Ogden’s assured display, and although he perhaps wasn’t tested too greatly by the struggling Stone attack, the emergence of Ogden will certainly provide healthy competition for the number one shirt.

The FC squad looks in fine fettle going into the home straight this season, and with potential glory on the horizon in both league and cup, there’s surely every incentive for United’s players to stake their claims for starting berths. Watched by a crowd of 840 as United made it a club record 15 games unbeaten, Margy’s side know that tougher battles lie ahead, and with a tricky trip over the Pennines to face Silsden this Thursday, not forgetting of course their second leg cup tie against Congleton Town on Saturday, by this time next week FC United should have a much better idea of what lies ahead this term.

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First Posted ~ 21:04 Thu 29 Mar 2007
News ID ~ 900
Last Updated ~ 17:51 Fri 11 Oct 2013