COMEBACK king Stuart Rudd came off the bench to see FC United into the quarter-finals of the UniBond President’s Cup.
Rudd’s second goal in as many games since his return from a long-term knee injury put paid to Rossendale as the reds set up a quarter-final tie away at Nantwich Town.
Rory Patterson again excelled, scoring the opener and providing the cross for his strike partner to tap in at the far post with 10 minutes to go.
The scoreline suggests a tight game but, despite hitting the goal of the game through a roundly applauded Matt Edgington strike, the Stags were never really in the match.
The crowd, all housed in the Main Stand due to the closure of the Manchester Road End (MRE), took to mocking each other in a search for competition.
The addition of those used to standing behind the goal added to the atmosphere in the more laid back Main Stand, even if the tone was lowered by the invasion of the scruffs. And the match was not bad either as FC played some great stuff through Nicky Platt and Chris Baguley.
Despite some pretty interchanges in midfield early on, Patterson’s opener came via route one. A ball over the top found the Irishman with time and space to lob the on-rushing Stags goalkeeper.
Patterson celebrated raucously in front of the empty MRE and those who would usually have been there to share his embrace laughed wildly.
Rudd was introduced with 20 minutes to go and soon after he made the most of a fantastic cross from Patterson to seal the victory.
The relief at his return was evident as Rudd took the plaudits, even if all eyes were on how his heavily bandaged knee would stand up to giving half of his United teammates piggy-backs.
The reds travel to Harrogate on Saturday, February 2, kick-off 3pm. Admission is £6 for adults and £3 for concessions.