Published: 20th September 2007
Fleetwood Town 2FC United 1
THERE was controversy by the spade-full as FC United’s FA Cup trip to the seaside didn’t exactly follow a fairy tale script and the reds found themselves on a roller coaster ride out of the competition thanks to two penalties for hosts Fleetwood Town.
Before the game Fleetwood was brimming with United fans singing FA Cup ditties of yore. Some sang of 1977 when it was Docherty, while others remembered Atkinson making it ‘83.
But amidst the cup fever and joviality there was a match to play and as much as FC huffed and puffed they just couldn’t shift the Fleetwood Town deck chairs, despite the home side playing nearly a third of the game 20-handed.
It didn’t bode well when kick-off was delayed due to a few Fleetwood locals taking a wrong turn. They clearly thought they’d travelled seven miles up the road to Pleasure Beach’s world famous coconut shy as they limbered up to take aim. Unfortunately for United keeper Sam Ashton they were obviously quite well practiced as some of their projectiles hit home. Ashton wasn’t up for dishing out cuddly animals or memory-challenged fish though and the referee pulled the teams off the pitch to give the idiots spoiling their club’s reputation an opportunity to calm down.
The kafuffle seemed to affect FC more as Fleetwood pressed from the restart and won a penalty on 12 minutes, which was converted by Milligan. It was a dubious decision given by the referee, who may or may not have had a goldfish under his arm.
FC battled back bravely, even though they were missing the cutting edge of top striker Stuart Rudd, who was serving the last game of his suspension.
Despite Rudd’s absence, FC began to get at the home side, much to the displeasure of the Cod Army, who showed their allegiance to fellow seamen by parading a flag of the American navy.
The reds, though, were not to be perturbed, even by the strange sensation of wearing the third choice blue kit, which until that morning had been locked up in a safe in Switzerland to protect it from people who call each other by internet names.
Rory Patterson, so often United’s saviour, once again produced the goods with a great finish to level the scores.
Half-time came and there were clearly words said in the changing rooms as both sides re-emerged with renewed vigour.
If anything, Fleetwood appeared too pumped up as 15 minutes into the second period a couple of their sailors got over excited and peaked too early. One seemed to raise a hand to Jerome Wright and escaped with a booking but moments later Ritchie Allen was not so lucky when he, according to reds’ defender Rob Nugent, expelled a liquid onto his person. A red card was deserved and FC must have fancied their chances against reduced numbers.
But, as often happens in this funny old game, it was the side going into battle with a depleted army that adapted better. Town won another penalty, this time clear cut, and Milligan once again dispatched it with aplomb, much to the delight of the assembled seamen behind the goal.
The reds simply didn’t have enough in their tank to force an equaliser. They pushed as hard as they could but just couldn’t prise the Town rearguard open. Carden and Patterson both had saw efforts sail wide and FC United’s FA Cup dream went the same way.