Monday, January 14, 2008

FC United 2 Chorley 1

By Mike Dawber

Chorley were desperately unlucky not to take anything from this match after a brave enterprising performance against the high-flying 'rebel' team, despite playing most of the match with ten men.

A quality Football League standard surface invites good passing football and both sides responded in a highly entertaining match which saw both teams create plenty scoring chances.

The Magpies stunned the home side in the eighth minute when Stephen Burke latched on to a magnificent pass from Mike Eckersley and outpaced the defence before hitting a rocket of a shot to beat the keeper from a tight angle.

Just as Chorley were looking to consolidate their lead, however, midfielder Gavin-Lee Ellison was sent off in 20th minute, when he uncharacteristically retaliated to a strong challenge by grabbing an opponent's shirt just yards from the referee.

Magpies manager Gerry Luczka soon shuffled his formation as a result with striker Chris McDonagh being replaced with midflelder Greg Traynor.

Burke, now the lone striker, again used his pace to create a chance but this time shot wide.

FC United were playing some neat football but the Chorley defence, well marshalled by captain Martin Clark, was proving hard to break down although Magpies keeper Peter Collinge was forced to make a brilliant reaction save as United pressed forward.

The equaliser came five minutes before half time from a free kick on the edge of the box which Rory Patterson appeared to strike the kick around what looked a badly positioned wall.

United now took the initiative and a shot first hit the woodwork, while another cannoned off the bar, while Collinge made a good save with his legs from close range, as the scores remained level at the break.

Any thoughts that the Magpies may try to settle for a point were soon dispelled as they poured forward at the start of the second half with Mark Drew, Chris Brookes and Steve Burke all had shots blocked.

Maybe Chorley fans realised it wasn't going to be their day when Traynor found himself in the box with just the keeper to beat and Burke unmarked to his right but he elected to shot and his tame effort was easily saved.

FC United now began to make their numerical advantage count as they create their own chances and Collinge was relieved to see a header go just over, while Patterson shot over the bar from close range.

Chorley were still finding it easy to open up the hoem defence though, and only a combination of the post and a scrambled save kept out a free kick from Mark Drew.

United took the lead in the 76th minute, with a Simon Carden header.

A double substitution for Chorley then saw Chris Brookes and Mark Drew replaced with Danny Nolan and Kenny Mayers.

United could have sealed the win when they were awarded a penalty but the spot kick hit the post.

Chorley came close to claiming a share of the spoils when Danny Nolan was fouled just outside the box but Traynor's free kick was hit just over the bar.

The Magpies players left the field to rapturous applause from the sizeable travelling contingent at full time and, if Chorley can continue to produce performances as spirited as this, they will surely have an excellent chance of pulling clear of the relegation zone.