A fabulous atmosphere at the Lane Rental Queensgate Stadium as the travelling hordes of FC United fans saw Town able to claim the 11th-highest gate outside of the Football League.
BRIDLINGTON TOWN 0
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER 3
UNIBOND LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH
The 1006-strong attendance fell short of the hoped for 1500, but six coachloads heading east that would have made the difference were thwarted by an accident that closed the M62 and turned back to Manchester.
With Town eager to avenge a 6-0 hiding handed out at Gigg lane back in August, Ash Berry's young side shot out of the blocks and went close through leading scorer Neil Towler after only two minutes.
It then went horribly wrong for Town after just nine minutes however, as FC launched their first serious raid of the game. Chris Baguley chipped over the top, and Carl Giblin looked to have a fairly simple task of nodding heading back to his 'keeper Mike Price, but left his header yards short, and Aaron Burns nipped in to guide the ball round price and into an empty net.
The noise levels from the throng that had virtually taken over the main stand went off the dial, and Town had to dig deep for the next few minutes to quieten the expectant crowd. They did this splendidly, and could have been back on terms on 12 minutes, with Dean Lackie offering a good chance for Towler on the edge of the 18-yard box, but his shot fizzed inches wide.
The supply line was reversed in Town's next attack, with Towler turning provider to Lackie, who looked to have got clear on goal only for Rob Nugent to slide in with a brilliantly timed tackle. Luke Smith then sent a 25-yard free-kick whistling over 'keeper Sam Ashton's bar as Town desperately tried to get on terms.
It was a far cry from the one-sided affair back in August, with Town now clearly giving as good as they got, and after Nugent had sent a header over the Town bar on 36 minutes, Town again went straight back on the attack with Harrison setting up Joe Brown for a shot which warmed Ashton's hands.
The game hinged on one pivotal moment just minutes after the break, as a superb through ball from Peter Naylor sent Towler scampering free of a static FC defence. The usually prolific hitman bore down on goal, but elected to take the ball around Ashton instead of shooting, and the 'keeper forced him too wide for a sight on goal. He laid the ball back to Lackie, who drove high over the bar and a golden opportunity was gone.
United showed no such profligacy as they roared straight to the other end and Jerome Wright shrugged off two limp challenges to stride into the era and fire home.
The league's top scorer Rory Patterson had been well shackled by the Town defence as the hour mark approached, but a player of such quality was not going to give in easily, and only needed a sniff of the ball inside the box on 56 minutes to send an opportunist chip over Price for FC's third.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Town, who had given everything up until that moment and had never looked second best at any point, and manager Ash Berry immediately began substitutions with another crowded week of cup football approaching.
Adam Smith was the pick of the replacements with another solid 25 minutes, and set up Brown for a good late chance which Ashton did well to beat out, but FC never looked likely to relinquish their lead as the clock ticked down.
Despite the outcome, Berry was not too downcast, saying "Their crowd can be worth a point in a league like this, when players are used to playing in front of 200 at the most, and I think it certainly distracted our lads at times.
"We looked the better side for a lot of the game, and only two mistakes really made the difference. Anyone who was at the game back in August can see the progress and the way the team is going."
A fantastic afternoon for everybody connected with the club despite the result, with deserved plaudits for the overworked bar staff, who had a non-stop shift of some seven hours, with the FC fans affording nothing but praise for the Queensgate set-up.
Town: Price, Rouse (Parker 50), L.Smith, Giblin, Naylor, Lackie, Dexter A.Smith 65), Harratt, Brown, Towler (Carter 60), Harrison.
Van Monster man of the match: Dean Lackie.
Last Updated: 05 November 2007 10:14 AM