Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bears take FC United to the wire


By Ian Ross

LEAGUE leaders FC United edged out Congleton Town by the odd goal in seven on Saturday in a pulsating league cup semi-final.

The Bears went down 4-3 at Gigg Lane in the second leg, United squeezing through into the final 6-5 after the first leg ended 2-2.

Congleton made a dream start, taking the lead after two minutes, and led twice in the match, which was watched by a crowd of 2,138.

The Bears stunned United with their opener, Baker's clipped ball over the United defence finding Courtney running down the right.

Congleton's top scorer spotted United keeper Ashton off his line, and his lob cleared the keeper before bouncing into the far corner of the net.

The action was end to end, Jones' curling shot from 20 yards glancing the top of the United bar.

United equalised on 31 minutes when Giggs crossed into the Bears' box, and Rudd stole in at the back post to fire into an unguarded net from eight yards.

United took the lead three minutes later, Patterson releasing Rudd behind the Congleton defence.

He made no mistake as he raced onto the ball and slotted it past advancing keeper Forester.

United were reduced to 10 men two minutes before the break when a player was sent off for violent conduct.

From the free kick by Johnson Williams clipped the ball back across goal, and Andy Alston nipped in at the near post to prod the ball home.

Congleton took a 3-2 lead four minutes into the second half, Courtney curling a through ball into the path of Williams, who clipped the ball past Ashton into the net.

United fought back instantly, making it 3-3 from the restart.

Taylor was allowed to cut inside before laying the ball off to Patterson.

With the Bears' defenders backing off him he tried his luck, and lashed the ball home with a dipping shot from 35 yards.

Forester saved at his near post, and United keeper Ashton made a great save to keep out a shot from Johnson.

United piled on the pressure despite being down to 10 men, and scored the goal to take them through to the final on 70 minutes.

A ball played towards the far post was met by Nugent, who headed into the top corner.

The Bears beat Bacup 2-1 at home on Tuesday night, Jones and Smith scoring on 48 and 85 minutes, the visitors' goal an own goal in the last minute.

Congleton travel to Newcastle Town this Saturday in the league, and are at home to Nantwich Town next Monday.