Thursday, March 23, 2006

Late scare - but Town cash in on their big night

Source: Oldham Evening Chronicle

Oldham Town 0, FC United 1

by Tony Bugby

OLDHAM Town lost 1-0 to FC United, but they were still winners as they look set to bank a £5,000 cash windfall from their biggest home game of the season last night.

But the fixture at Boundary Park, in the second division of The Moore & Co Construction Solicitors League, very nearly didn’t go ahead after an astonishing blunder.

Embarrassed league officials have launched an investigation into how the match officials were informed that the division two fixture at Boundary Park was cancelled.

The error only came to light an hour before kick-off when Town secretary Dave Shepherd was puzzled by the non-appearance of the match officials.

Mr Shepherd telephoned referee Mark Bailey, who was at his Blackburn home, and the official claimed he had received a letter from referees secretary Ron Bridges informing him the match had been postponed.

As Mr Bridges is out of the country representing the Welsh FA at an international tournament, league officials are unable to work what exactly went wrong.

But they praised Mr Shepherd for his quick thinking in mustering four match officials at short notice.

Referee Derek Brannick had gone to the game as a spectator only to be telephoned as he was outside Boundary Park.

He had to dash back to his home in Shaw to get his kit while the other officials had to hurry from Castleton, Stretford and Ramsbottom.

The match started 15 minutes late, but that was the only major glitch on a night when Town’s coffers received a welcome cash influx from a crowd on 1,767 - a figure which would have been much higher had it been a weekend fixture.

It still smashed Town’s previous best home crowd of 600 for an FA Cup tie against Halifax Town 10 years ago.

And it was a proud night for Town chairman Ken Hughes, who founded the club as local works team George Dew in 1964, as he watched his team from the directors box.

“It is all about taking the club forward and I am quite pleased how things are going,” he explained.

It was a disappointing night on the field, however, as Town’s eight- match unbeaten run came to an end.

Manager Tony Mills felt some of his players did not do themselves justice as they lost for the first time in 2006.

It was a desperately poor game and Mills was unhappy with Dave Chadwick’s 55th minute match-winning goal for FC United.

He claimed keeper Dave Carnell was impeded as he tried to turn Chadwick’s header over the bar but only succeeded in pushing it into the roof of the net following a corner.

“We have lost both games to FC United 1-0 to freak goals which is disappointing, though we didn’t play anywhere near like we can do,” Mills conceded.

Town mustered only one clear-cut chance and that came at the death when a 40-yard lob from substitute Nick Murphy almost caught keeper Phil Melville off guard.

Carnell made a couple of decent saves from former Rochdale striker Rory Patterson, but other than that was not unduly busy.