Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rebels seal magnificent double

Source: This is Lancashire

By Liam Chronnell

A MAGNIFICENT solo effort from Josh Howard helped FC United complete a superb a league and cup double.

The former Manchester United trainee struck with just nine minutes remaining to help the Rebels overcome Curzon Ashton in the League Challenge Cup Final at the Tameside Stadium.

Nicky Allen fired Curzon in front on 66 minutes but Nicky Platt equalised from the penalty spot just a minute later in the battle of the North West Counties League's top two clubs.

But on 81 minutes Howard, who had been toppled in the area for the champions' spot kick, jinked past four defenders before crashing home an unstoppable shot from six yards.

In a tense first half, Chris Worsley wasted a glorious chance to put the hosts in front on 33 minutes when he shot tamely at Sam Ashton after being one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

After the break United's Simon Carden volleyed straight at David Carnell before the game exploded into life on 66 minutes.

First, Allen's 20-yard strike bobbled over Ashton's outstretched arms to give the FA Vase semi-finalists the lead.

But their joy was short-lived as the lead lasted for less than 60 seconds.

The Rebels stormed straight to the other end of the field and Howard was upended in the area by full-back Stuart Ball and the referee pointed to the spot.

Platt stepped up to coolly slot home and spark an increase in the volume from the FC fans who formed the vast majority of the estimated 4,000 crowd.

Karl Marginson's side were then indebted to a wonderful save from former Bolton Wanderers' keeper Ashton before breaking down the other end for Howard to etch his name in FC's folklore by grabbing the winning goal in the breakaway club's first ever cup final - extending their unbeaten run to 26 games and capping a truly memorable season in the process.