Source: Manchester Evening News
Tony Glennon and George Oliver
ECSTATIC FC United fans will stage a huge promotion party at today's big Gigg Lane showdown with Maine Road after the Rebels booked their ticket to the UniBond League with victory at Ramsbottom.
But manager Karl Marginson warned his players WON'T be joining in the celebrations unless they chalk up one of the three wins they now need to clinch their second successive title.
Ten-man FC fell behind to a Steve Maden strike and then had 41-goal top scorer Stuart Rudd sent off at Ramsbottom.
But they hit back to win 2-1 and seal promotion with goals from Jerome Wright and Nicky Platt.
FC United's latest milestone achievement sparked scenes of jubilation among the ranks of visiting fans in a crowd of 1,653, around 700 of whom had travelled to the game by steam train from Bury.
Hundreds more are expected to join them in celebration today, when Gigg Lane will once again be turned into a sea of red and white.
But, thrilled as he is to be on his way up once again, Marginson says he, his backroom staff and players will resist the temptation to get caught up in the party atmosphere - at least until after the final whistle.
"Winning promotion for the second year running is a fantastic achievement, but there's still a title to be won," Marginson said.
Platt's 61st-minute penalty almost brought the house down at Ramsbottom's Riverside Ground.
The goal resulted in a crowd surge that temporarily halted the game as touchline hoardings buckled.
Platt converted the spot kick after United captain Rory Patterson had been dragged down by Rams keeper Martin Campbell.
Wright had earlier equalised by beating his man and lifting the ball over the keeper.
"We still have to win three of our last six games to be champions - and we'll be looking for the first against Maine Road in what our supporters regard as the mini-derby."
FC's brave comeback win at Rammy means they can no longer be caught by second-placed Salford City.
That leaves Curzon Ashton, in fourth, as the only team with a chance of overtaking the Rebels in the run-in.
But, in spite of Marginson's warning, the NWCL First Division championship is as good as in the bag.
Meanwhile, Curzon's best hope of rocking the Rebels will come when the teams meet in the final of the NWCL's D-Zine League Challenge Cup at the Ashton-under-Lyne club's Tameside Stadium on May 3.
Steve Moore hit all their goals as they crushed semi-final opponents Flixton 4-1 to march through 7-2 on aggregate.
Facing the `Nash' in the final is an appealing prospect for Marginson, who numbers Curzon among his former clubs.
"We've had two great games with Curzon in the league this season and I'm sure the final will be just as exciting," added the Rebels manager.