By Staff Sports Reporter
IT'S still only November but many FC United supporters are already dreaming of something many of them have seen once before - the treble.
The breakaway club, set up by Manchester United fans unhappy with the takeover by Malcolm Glazer at the start of last season, could replicate their more illustrious neighbours' achievements of 1999, albeit on a smaller scale.
The rebel Reds, seven points clear at the top of the North West Counties League Division One and through to the last 16 of the League Challenge Cup, progressed into the third round of the FA Vase at the weekend with a 3-2 victory against Salford City.
The win avenged the Gigg Lane outfit's only defeat of the season in front of a crowd of 2,799 at The Willows - and moved FC a step closer to a trip to Wembley.
But manager Karl Marginson is refusing to get carried away despite their continued success on all fronts.
"There's no point talking about Wembley and cup finals because it can all change so quickly," said the down-to-earth Reds boss, who was up at 4am to do his fruit and veg rounds before the eagerly-awaited re-match, switched to a 12 noon kick-off on police advice.
"In cup football you only get one chance and referees, players and managers can make mistakes, but we will do our best.
"When we lost last time it really hurt the lads but we've got winners in that dressing room and they've come back even stronger.
"We've just got to keep going. It's just about the next game against Stone Dominoes now, and then the one after that, and so on. It's boring but it's true."
United entertain the league's bottom club on Saturday and Marginson will take the opportunity to rest several players following a gruelling period during which his side have also beaten title rivals Maine Road and FA Vase holders Nantwich Town.
He added: "We've had a tough three weeks and it's a good chance for some of them to recharge their batteries."
Such charitable thoughts were never likely to enter Marginson's head before the weekend's clash with Salford - the team who prevented United breaking the league record of 13 straight wins at the start of last month.
Yet it was City who enjoyed a dream start when Tommy Turner fired the home side into a second-minute lead.
But FC responded superbly and Stuart Rudd grabbed an eighth-minute equaliser, before Simon Carden put the visitors ahead four minutes later.
Captain Dave Chadwick added a third on the hour to book United's place in the next round, though David Burrows set up a tense finale when he struck a late consolation.
SALFORD CITY 2 FC UNITED 3
NW Counties Division One (ed: it was in the Vase)