Thursday, April 27, 2006

Defeat was a sideshow to big parade

Source: Bury Times
By Marc Higginson
From the Bury Times on April 27, 2006

FC UNITED 0, GREAT HARWOOD 1: FC United of Manchester will be glad to see the back of Great Harwood Town as the East Lancashire side have taken four points from the champions this season.

In truth, this niggly game was a sideshow to United's title celebrations and more than 6,000 supporters were intent on having a great day whatever the result.

The spirit and fight put up by Great Harwood was admirable, and they picked up the three points courtesy of a last minute Ben Fisher strike.

United started the brightest and could have been two goals up inside ten minutes if Rory Patterson or Steve Torpey had shown their usual cool composure in front of goal.

However, the visitors weathered the storm and were causing problems of their own through the industry of striker John Eastham The game became more and more tight, with neither side prepared to give an inch in pursuit of victory and the half-time whistle sent the two teams in on level terms.

The match exploded into life on the hour mark when United's assistant manager Phil Power was dismissed for raising his hands to Harwood left-back Kieran Fletcher.

The dismissal was harsh and the play-acting by Fletcher was embarrassing.

He writhed about the ground in agony despite being clipped, at the most, by Power.

It was play-acting at its worst and certainly added some spice to the occasion.

Just five minutes later, Fletcher had every reason to roll about the pitch in obvious pain when Steven Spencer appeared to stud the defender's groin.

He was yellow carded by the referee when a red wouldn't have been unreasonable.

The tackles were flying in, and Simon Carden managed to fire over from five yards following a delightful Patterson cross on the right. It would have been easier for the former Radcliffe midfielder to score.

Great Harwood lost manager John Hughes to the stands following more argy bargy on the touchline, but it was Hughes who had the final laugh in the game when his side took the lead in the final minute. Good work on the right by Eastham ended in a perfect cross for Fisher to fire home.

However, United were presented with the league trophy ten minutes later and the celebrations began. Before the league presentation, Josh Howard was named as Young Supporters' Player of the Season, Rory Patterson picked up the same award for all fans and Steve Spencer was named Players' Player of the Year.