Monday, March 31, 2008

FC United 2-2 Lancaster City

Battling Lancaster City stunned a crowd of almost 2,000 people and snatched a deserved point on Saturday after Dave Foster's dramatic last-minute strike.

Foster tucked the ball into an empty net after home goalkeeper Sam Ashton completely missed a routine clearance on a waterlogged Gigg Lane pitch.

Both sides almost grabbed victory in the four minutes of stoppage time which followed but the score somehow remained level.

Mike Rushton – who scored his first goal for the club - gave City a first-half lead but FC United of Manchester hit back with strikes just before and after half-time.

The eagerly-awaited fixture was nearly called off prior to kick-off after heavy rain caused considerable damage to the playing surface.

As rain continued to fall during play, the second half resumed around 20 minutes late. The referee felt more time was needed for badly-affected areas of the pitch to dry out.

Afterwards City boss Barrie Stimpson said: "We deserved a lead at half-time but had a terrible 10 minutes after the break.

"With their support we could have gone three, four or even five goals down but we showed some character to fight back and deserved a point in the end."

Stimpson made two changes after his side's 2-1 defeat at Curzon Ashton. Striker Mark Jackson started up front alongside Foster and replaced Dave Swarbrick following his move to FC United. Tom Entwisle made way for winger Rushton.

City started brightly and posed a threat on 12 minutes when the impressive Rushton saw a shot deflected wide after excellent work from Foster on the right-hand side.

Promotion-chasing FC United created their first chance six minutes later when Jamie Baguley's shot was parried away by visiting goalkeeper Mark Thornley.

Foster's last-gasp leveller was fortunate but there was nothing lucky about City's opener on 20 minutes.

Aaron Helliwell's defence-splitting pass sent Foster clear on goal but the marksman opted to pass rather than shoot. He slid the ball beyond shot-stopper Ashton and picked out Rushton who neatly finished off the move.

City's Jackson tested Ashton with a half-volley moments later but FC United responded well and began to look increasingly dangerous.

There was a close call for City on the half-hour mark when home defender Rob Nugent struck the bar from Jerome Wright's teasing corner.

The hosts made their sustained pressure count on 41 minutes when Jamie Baguley's left-footed drive was deflected home by midfielder Adam Carden.

FC United nearly took the lead on the stroke of half-time when leading-scorer Rory Patterson beat Thornley but poked the ball inches wide.

The second half continued in a similar vein after the delay as sloppy City man-marking led to FC United's second goal.

On 49 minutes, the lively Jamie Baguley found too much space at the near post and headed home Wright's inswinging corner.

The hosts grew in confidence and almost netted a third when striker Nick Robinson saw a goal-bound effort palmed away by the impressive Thornley.

Passing soon became increasingly difficult as strong showers impaired the pitch further. But the weather failed to ruin a thrilling contest as both sides battled for every ball.

With 12 minutes left, FC United striker Robinson spurned a glorious chance to seal victory when he struck the ball wide from point-blank range.

City defiantly refused to give up and almost equalised when midfielder Chris Baguley headed against his own bar from substitute Paul Rigby's cross.

But City's tireless effort was finally rewarded with just a minute left following an unforgettable blunder by home goalkeeper Ashton.

When Ashton failed to connect with sub Entwisle's lofted ball, the outstanding Foster sprinted forward and calmly applied a deft finish.

In injury time FC United's Robinson saw a header brilliantly saved by Thornley, while Foster and Jackson came agonisingly close at the other end.

Foster rounded goalkeeper Ashton and saw a goal-bound effort blocked before Jackson's venomous rebound deflected off a defender and flashed wide.

City: Thornley 8, Greenwood 7 (Rigby 45), Marshall 7, Heffernan 7, Swan 8, Stringfellow 7, Rushton 8 (Redhead 84), Uberschar 7, Foster 9, Jackson 7, Helliwell 7 (Entwisle 68)

FC United: Ashton, Foster, Howard, J. Baguley (Holden 86), Chadwick, Nugent, A. Carden (S. Carden 53), C. Baguley, Robinson, Wright, Patterson. Unused sub: Bleau

Starman: Dave Foster scored one, set up another and never stopped running

Referee: J. L Madine

Attendance: 1,859

Last Updated: 31 March 2008 9:38 AM

FC United 2 Lancaster 2

31/ 3/2008

FC UNITED'S big push for a third successive title hit the skids at a soggy Gigg Lane as keeper Sam Ashton gifted Lancaster an 89th minute equaliser.

The Rebels were on course their third win in a week when Ashton allowed an overhit pass to zip past him off the greasy surface, leaving Dave Foster to fire home from a narrow angle.

FC had earlier come from behind to lead 2-1 through Adam Carden and Jamie Baguley, but Foster's late leveller forced them to settle for a point
The 2-2 draw was a major missed opportunity for Karl Marginson's men as UniBond division one north leaders Skelmersdale, who they visit tomorrow, were also held, at Ossett.

It also enabled third-placed Curzon Ashton to stretch their lead over FC to six points with a 4-2 win at Harrogate Railway.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

FC keep the pressure on

27/ 3/2008

FC UNITED closed the gap on UniBond League Division One North leaders Skelmersdale as they hosted lowly Chorley at Gigg Lane.

The reds are now eight points adrift with four games in hand on the front-runners after a comfortable 3-0 win over the Lancastrians thanks to goals from Rory Patterson and Stuart Rudd.

It meant they continued where they left off after scoring a last-minute winner in a 2-1 success at second from bottom Woodley Sports on Bank Holiday Monday.

Rudd netted with a Mark Hughes style volley to secure three vital points and end his recent goal drought.

But FC were held to a 2-2 draw by spirited basement club Radcliffe Borough on Saturday. Their scorers in the Gigg Lane clash were Josh Howard and Simon Carden.

United entertain mid-table Lancaster City this Saturday, March 29, kick-off 3pm.

FC United 3 Chorley 0

27/ 3/2008

FC UNITED stepped up their bid for a third successive title by brushing UniBond division one north relegation battlers Chorley aside at Gigg Lane.

And yet again their hero was ace marksman Rory Patterson, who struck twice to take his goals tally in the league to 30. Patterson fired promotion-chasing FC in front after just eight minutes but had to wait until five minutes after the restart to add his second when he swept home Jerome Wright's pinpoint cross from the left.

Stuart Rudd capped a fine display by adding the third goal to take the Rebels into fourth place behind Curzon.

They now trail leaders Skelmersdale by eight points but have four games in hand on the Merseysiders.

Chorley outclassed by FC United

A jaded Chorley side were completely outclassed by FC United last night.

The only Magpie to emerge from the game with any credit was keeper Peter Collinge who kept the score down with a series of top-class saves.

As it was, a double from the league's leading scorer Rory Patterson and a last-minute effort from Stuart Rudd were more than enough to see off the visitors, who never looked as if they would score their first goal in four games.

The game was dominated by United's skilful and pacy midfield trio, the Baguley brothers and Jerome Wright, and chances were created at regular intervals.

If a number of these chances went begging, and the midfielders themselves were as guilty as the frontrunners at times in squandering them, much of that was down to Collinge's resistance.

The opening goal arrived in the ninth minute when Wright's cross from the byeline was bundled home by Patterson, and, though United dominated the rest of the half, they failed to increase their lead.

As half-time approached Chorley might easily have levelled when Eckersley and Nolan combined to send Drew clear and his shot from just inside the box only just missed the target.

United and Patterson doubled their lead in the 50th minute with a carbon copy of the first goal, Wright again the provider.

Not long after, Patterson looked certain to complete his hat-trick a s he left the Chorley rearguard in his wake and rounded Collinge, but before he could convert the opportunity the defenders regrouped and smothered his effort.

United remained in control, creating and missing chances at will, while Chorley's rare excursions into opposition territory never really threatened to break their duck, though Eckersley should have done better than clear the bar by yards when receiving the ball by the penalty spot courtesy of a misplaced defensive header.

Soon after, Collinge made his best save of the night when he acrobatically tipped a 30-yard free-kick from Chris Baguley round the post.

But it was to no avail as Rudd gave a more realistic look to the scoreline with his last-minute strike.

Chorley: Collinge, Clark, Taylor, Fletcher, Mullineux (Coyne 75), Drew, Eckersley, Ellison, Burke, Nolan (Walker 66), Goodeve (Brookes 66).

Attendance: 1,645

Last Updated: 27 March 2008 9:38 AM

FC United 3, Chorley 0

Chorley could do little to stop FC United of Manchester, chasing a third successive promotion, powering their way to a comprehensive 3-0 win at Gigg Lane, Bury, last night.

The Magpies were chasing the game from the ninth minute when Jerome Wright laid on the opener for marksman Rory Patterson and five minutes into the second half the pair repeated the move for Patterson's second.

A spirited Chorley had few chances and the action was mainly at the other end, where goalkeeper Peter Collinge crowned a superb display with a flying save from Chris Baguley's 30-yard free kick.

Stuart Rudd rounded off the win with a goal in stoppage time.

The defeat was Chorley's fifth in succession and the Magpies have now gone 380 minutes without a goal.

Chorley manager Tony Hesketh praised his players for their battling display against a side now unbeaten in 14 league matches. "They held their heads up and kept going," he said.

"We have Wakefield at home on Saturday and the Co-operative Lancashire FA Trophy final at Leyland on Wednesday against my old club Southport. After that we have five league games left, three of them at home, so there's still plenty to play for."

Wakefield have won their last six away league games and with Chorley looking to end a run of five defeats it will be an interesting fixture.

11:47am Thursday, 27 March 2008

(Also Chorley Citizen

Swarbrick returns to FC United

DAVE Swarbrick has left Lancaster City to return to FC United, who play City on Saturday.

Swarbrick informed City boss Barrie Stimpson of his decision on Wednesday night despite earlier in the week indicating he wanted to stay at Giant Axe.

Now he could line up against City at Gigg Lane on Saturday, having already played against Lancaster this season on the opening day when City beat FC United 2-1.

Stimpson said: "I am disappointed with the way that it has happened.

"I would have liked to have him as part of the squad as I think he has been our liveliest player in the last two games.

"I can understand the pull of FC United in the short term but I wonder whether in the long term he may be making the wrong decision.

"But it is not devastating news and life goes on. We have Mike Rushton who plays in the same position and we have not seen the best of him yet."

Stimpson also indicated there could be more changes towards the end of the season as he prepares for the 2008-09 campaign.

Last Updated: 27 March 2008 10:58 AM

FC United Of Manchester 3 - 0 Chorley

Chorley were put the sword by FC United's razor-sharp front line at Gigg Lane last night (Wednesday).

Two goals from the reds' top scorer Rory Patterson, another from Stuart Rudd and a devastating performance from Jerome Wright helped United to a 3-0 victory, which would have been more but for man-of-the-match Peter Collinge's heroics in the Chorley net.

The Magpies have now lost five games in a row, without scoring in the last four and only threatened when Danny Nolan carved out a couple of half chances for himself.

FC United were ahead as early as the eighth minute when Wright burst down the left, cut inside the penalty area and found Patterson, who scored from close range after first stumbling over the ball.

Collinge saved twice more from Patterson in their personal duel before hald time, and then on 50 minutes, Wright's pace outstripped skipper Martin Clark, and the rapid forward found Patterson who poked home for 2-0.

In the closing stages, Mike Eckersley had a chance to grab a consolation after a United mistake in their own penalty area, but he fired over the top.

Rudd then went clear to round the superb Collinge and roll the ball home for 3-0.

Last Updated: 27 March 2008 8:07 AM

Margy's men feel invincible

26/ 3/2008

KARL Marginson branded FC United the new invincibles of the UniBond first division north as they continue to push for a third successive title at home to Chorley.

A 2-2 draw with Radcliffe Borough, followed by a 2-1 win against Woodley Sports on Monday, leaves the Rebels 11 points behind leaders Skelmersdale, but with five games in hand.

It was an impressive response after the 3-1 Manchester Premier Cup defeat by Radcliffe last week.

And Marginson is looking for them to make up more ground on the leaders when they face Chorley at Gigg Lane on Wednesday, part of a punishing schedule of 15 games in five weeks.

"We've got that inner belief and we've got to keep encouraging them," he said.

"They believe they are invincible at the moment.

"There will still be some twists and turns, especially with all our fixtures coming up, but it is in our own hands now."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rudd fires FC to victory

By Liam Chronnell

Woodley Sports 1 FC United 2

STUART Rudd helped FC get their title bid back on track with a spectacular late winner against Woodley Sports.

After only drawing with basement club Radcliffe Borough at the weekend, the Rebels were in danger of losing further ground on the leaders with the game locked at 1-1 with just three minutes left.

But substitute Rudd saved the visitors with a brilliant overhead kick to keep the pressure on top-of-the-table Skelmersdale, who are 11 points in front having played five games more than the Reds.

Second-bottom Woodley took a shock lead two minutes after the break, before Jamie Baguley levelled matters on 67 minutes to set up a grandstand finish.

Monday 24th March 2008

Woodley 1 FC United 2

24/ 3/2008

FC UNITED had substitute Stuart Rudd to thank for keeping them firmly in the UniBond first division north title hunt with a spectacular late winner at Woodley.

Rudd struck with an 89th-minute overhead kick to give the fifth-placed Rebels a victory which ensures they stay tucked in behind neighbours Curzon Ashton, 2-1 winners over Lancaster.

But it was a win achieved at a price for Karl Marginson's men, who lost leading scorer Rory Patterson with a knee injury.

Pat McGuire had given lowly Woodley a 47th-minute lead before Jamie Baguley equalised midway in the second half.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Rebels held by battling Boro

Source: The Bolton News

By Marc Higginson

FC United 2 Radcliffe Boro 2
UniBond Division One North

BASEMENT club Radcliffe Borough held promotion-chasing neighbours FC United for the second time in the league this season.

Boro went ahead twice in an entertaining tussle at Gigg Lane, but were pegged back on both occasions by Karl Marginson's men.

Steve Howson took his tally for the season to 29 goals with strikes on 20 and 64 minutes, but Josh Howard and Simon Carden rescued the Rebels, who were lucky to see another Howson goal disallowed for off-side.

Both teams are back in action this afternoon.

Peter Coyne's men host Newcastle Blue Star while FC United visit Boro's nearest rivals in the league, Woodley Sports.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Radcliffe don't fear Rebel Reds

By Marc Higginson

RADCLIFFE Borough director of football Peter Coyne insists that his side have no fears about going to Gigg Lane and turning over title-chasing FC United.

And Coyne has good cause for optimism ahead of tomorrow's vital league clash for both teams for very different reasons.

Basement club Boro held the Rebels to a 1-1 draw in the league on Boxing Day, and beat a full-strength team 3-1 on Tuesday night in the semi-finals of the Manchester Cup.

"We can't wait for it," said former Manchester United winger Coyne. "They know they will be in for a tough game against us.

"We know how we play and they know how we play. They scored right near the end to deny us a win at our place, and then we beat them on Tuesday night.

"The lads are full of confidence after that victory and it is a result that should give everyone a lift.

"I cannot put my finger on why we win in the cup, but struggle in the league. Our performances in the league have been good, and the only thing missing is the results."

Boro will be boosted by the return of Griff Jones, Neil Chappell and Mark Jones, but are still without injured duo Andy Scott and Andy Dawson.

FC, meanwhile, have an immediate opportunity to avenge their cup exit at the hands of their neighbours.

The Reds, chasing a third successive championship, saw their treble hopes shattered by Boro in midweek.

Nine points behind leaders Skelmersdale with five games in hand, United will hope to return to winning ways against the division's bottom club. But they will have to do it without goalkeeper Aaron Grundy, who returned to Bury following his one-month loan spell - much to the dismay of manager Karl Marginson.

"His ability is there for all to see but he has a professionalism about him," said the Reds boss, who signed him when first-choice keeper Sam Ashton dislocated a finger. "We'd love to keep him."

Friday 21st March 2008

Super Boro book another final place

By Marc Higginson

Radcliffe Boro 3 FC United 1

Manchester Cup semi-final

THEY might be bottom of the league, but Radcliffe Borough have no such worries in the other competitions after another sensational cup performance booked another final date before the end of the season.

Just ten days after earning a place in the final of the Presidents Cup against FC United, Boro struck an early blow on the Rebel Reds by turning the form book upside down and storming into the final of the Manchester Cup against the same opponents.

Missing seven players, Peter Coyne's men came from behind to secure a deserved victory, and make a mockery of their league position - Steve Howson and Michael Oates (2) scoring the goals.

Boro have won only four out of 30 games in UniBond Division One North, but they get the results their performances merit in the cups and have won 13 and drawn one from 18 cup games this season.

It is a bit of a conundrum for Coyne and his management team, but you won't find the Boro director of football turning down the chance of two cup finals.

"It's fantastic to be in two cup finals, and we were always confident about winning this game given our cup form this season," said Coyne.

"I cannot put my finger on why we win in the cup, but struggle in the league. Our performances in the league have been good, and the only thing missing is the results.

"We haven't won anything yet, but it would be nice to pick up a trophy. However, we are striving to get off the bottom of the league first and foremost."

Boro should have been ahead on 21 minutes after both Howson and Oates hit the bar. Oates fed Howson, who saw his lob from 25 yards come back off the bar before watching in disbelief as Oates' powerful follow-up also hit the woodwork.

To rub salt into the home side's wounds, the visitors went into the lead on 32 minutes when Chris Baguley curled a stunning effort into the back of the net from 25 yards.

Undeterred, Boro came fighting back in the second half, and were level on 49 minutes when Howson hammered home his 27th goal of the season after Tony Whealing's free-kick had been fumbled.

FC United were restricted to long-range efforts, and it was no surprise when Boro went into the lead on 61 minutes.

Whealing delivered an inch perfect cross into the box to leave Oates with the simplest of tap-ins for his eighth goal of the season.

Oates then sent the Boro supporters into dreamland nine minutes later when he spun his marker and slotted home with aplomb to seal the tie.

There was still time for Phil Priestley to make a fine double save from Stuart Rudd and Chris Baguley, but Boro held on for a deserved victory.

RADCLIFFE: Priestley, Sampson, Whealing, Kelly, Flynn, C. Dawson, Forrest, Connell, Waine, Howson, Oates. Subs not used: Manning.

Wednesday 19th March 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Radcliffe Borough 3 FC United 1

Tony Howard
20/ 3/2008

FC UNITED manager Karl Marginson read the riot act after Radcliffe Borough dumped his side out of the Manchester Premier Cup to book their place in the final.

The two sides lock horns again on Saturday, March 22, in the UniBond League Division One North and they have the small matter of a Presidents Cup final to play in April. And it is advantage Radcliffe in the run up to those encounters after they enjoyed a heroic 3-1 victory over FC on Tuesday night.

The league’s bottom club thoroughly deserved their win as title hopefuls United resorted to the ridiculous tactic of lumping the ball long, when their strengths clearly lie with playing the ball on the deck.

Much to Marginson’s disgust, his side squandered a 1-0 half-time lead as Borough took advantage of the reds’ below par showing to book themselves a showdown with Hyde United in the final thanks to goals from Steve Howson and Michael Oates (2).

Chris Baguley gave FC a 33rd minute lead with a superb left foot strike and the majority of the 837 crowd were confident that United’s treble ambitions were still on track. But after the break there was a complete transformation as the pretty football FC have used to their advantage this season disappeared and was replaced by ugly long balls which brought frustration both on and off the pitch.

Stand-in FC skipper Rory Patterson was at his petulant worst, throwing his hands around at every missed pass and his bad attitude seemed to permeate throughout the rest of the team. Borough duly took full advantage and the only blemish on their night was the woeful decision to play music after the goals and a pitch invasion at the end. But they can be forgiven for their giddiness.

Margy said: "It was a terrible performance and the players went out and did the complete opposite of what we told them at half-time. We told them to keep the ball down and pass it but they then started to lump long balls forward.

"All credit to Borough, they deserved their win and their league position is a lie in my opinion. We play them on Saturday and will be looking to put things right."

It was all in contrast to Saturday’s scenes of celebrations at Gigg Lane when fifth-placed FC scored an injury time victory over Newcastle Blue Star to keep their title hopes alive. Substitute Adam Carden knocked in the vital strike in a 3-2 win.

On the same day and by the same score, Radcliffe lost to fourth-placed Bamber Bridge for the third time this season. As a result, Borough are now seven points adrift of the survival zone.

But Radcliffe’s bid to beat the drop has been boosted by two arrivals from Bradford Park Avenue – prolific striker Griff Jones, who netted 18 goals in 20 goals for Witton last season, and ex-Borough player Mark Jones.

Both sides now face three games in five days over Easter. They play each other this Saturday at Gigg Lane, kick-off 3pm with admission costing £7.50 for adults and £2 for under-18s.

FC then play away at second from bottom Woodley on Easter Monday, March 24, kick off 3pm, and at home to fourth from bottom Chorley on Wednesday, March 25, kick-off 7.45pm.

Radcliffe play mid-table Newcastle Blue Star at home on Easter Monday, kick-off 3pm, and visit 13th-placed Harrogate Railway on Wednesday, 7.45pm.

Rebels look for revenge

By Liam Chronnell

FC UNITED have an immediate opportunity to avenge their Manchester Cup semi-final defeat at hands of Radcliffe Borough.

The UniBond Division One North rivals meet at Gigg Lane for the second time in five days after seeing their treble hopes shattered by Boro.

Nine points behind leaders Skelmersdale with five games in hand, the Rebels will hope to return to winning ways against the division's bottom club. But they will have to do it without goalkeeper Aaron Grundy, who returned to Bury following his one-month loan spell - much to the dismay of manager Karl Marginson.

"His ability is there for all to see but he has a professionalism about him," said the Reds boss, who signed him when Sam Ashton dislocated a finger. "We'd love to keep him."

Super sub Adam Carden grabbed an injury-time winner to keep alive FC's title hopes in a 3-2 win against Newcastle Blue Star at the weekend.

The Reds look to be cruising after top-scorer Rory Patterson struck twice in the opening 21 minutes. But the visitors hit back with just 13 minutes remaining before stunning FC with an equaliser five minutes later.

However, Carden, who had only been on the pitch two minutes, slotted home deep into time added on.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Radcliffe Boro 3 FC United 1

James Robson
19/ 3/2008

IN A season that's heading for gridlock, FC United can scratch one fixture off their daunting schedule.

The Rebels saw their hopes of a treble blown away by a Radcliffe Borough side who made a mockery of their position at the foot of the Unibond First Division North.

A Michael Oates inspired second-half fight back saw Borough secure their place in the Manchester Premier Cup final with Hyde, while Karl Marginson must now concentrate on the title as well as the Presidents Cup final against last night's opponents.

The Premier Cup was never going to be top of his priorities - but he showed his intentions by naming a strong team, with Dave Chadwick arguably the only noticeable absentee.

Even still, he saw his side out-thought and out-fought by Borough, who could have been out of sight by half-time.

Remarkably the Rebels led at the break, courtesy of a sumptuous goal by Chris Baguley. But Oates' double after the interval and another by Steve Howson saw the game turned on its head.

It was the least they deserved after peppering United's goal in the first 45 minutes - twice hitting the bar in one attack and seeing several other chances wasted.

The best Marginson's men could muster was a Stuart Rudd header, saved from point-blank range by Phil Priestley.

When their lead came, on 33 minutes, it was against the run of play, but worthy of any semi-final, with Baguley collecting the ball 25 yards out and curling a left-foot shot in the top corner.

It looked like Borough would be punished for their wastefulness, but Kevin Glendon's half-time team talk had the desired effect with his side restoring parity almost immediately after the restart.

Four minutes into the second half Tony Whealing's free-kick on the edge of the area bounced awkwardly in front of Sam Ashton and the keeper couldn't hold on to the ball as Howson blasted the rebound into the net.

From that moment Borough never looked like losing it with Craig Dawson firing over from close range before Whealing's cross from the left-hand side was met by Oates at the near post, giving Ashton no chance.

The game was put beyond doubt 10 minutes later when Oates was set free down the right and he fired home from a tight angle.

Boro end Rebels' treble dreams

By Marc Higginson

Radcliffe Borough 3 FC United 1

RADCLIFFE Borough booked a second cup final appearance of the season with a well-earned victory over neighbours FC United.

Boro had to come from behind after Chris Baguley's 25-yard strike had put the treble-chasing Rebels in front on 32 minutes in the Manchester Cup semi-final clash at Stainton Park.

That was tough on Radcliffe, who hit the bar twice before their high-flying UniBond Division One North rivals had opened the scoring.

But Peter Coyne's side roared back after the break and were level within four minutes when Steve Howson smashed home the rebound after goalkeeper Sam Ashton could only parry Tony Whealing's free-kick.

Boro, rooted to the bottom of the table, took the lead on 59 minutes when Michael Oates tapped home Whealing's cross from the left.

And victory was sealed nine minutes later when Oates outstripped his marker to add a third and set up a final showdown with Blue Square North outfit Hyde United at Oldham Athletic's Boundary Park ground.

Tuesday 18th March 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Margy serious about Cup mission

James Robson
18/ 3/2008

KARL Marginson insists he is serious about the Manchester Premier Cup, even though he is expected to ring the changes for tonight's semi-final at Radcliffe Borough.

The Rebels face a fixture pile-up in the closing weeks of the season, with Marginson looking to keep his squad fresh for the challenges ahead. They face a home league game with Radcliffe on Saturday.

But he says he is still determined to reach the final, even if it means another fixture being added to an already gruelling season.

"It would be going against my own beliefs if I put out teams I didn't think could win games. It will give me a chance to see what strength in depth we have and with all the games coming up there are some players we need to save.

"We showed at Goole that we can bring players out of the reserves who can win matches."

United kept their title hopes on track with a 3-2 win against Newcastle Blue Star on Saturday, leaving them nine points off leaders Skelmersdale with five games in hand.

And while promotion remains a priority for Marginson, he is still dreaming of making the Premier Cup final.

"It's important to the fans," he said.

"Everyone loves a cup final, especially United fans who have such a great history in cups."

Late strike keeps Reds in hunt

By Liam Chronnell

UniBond Division One North round-up SUPER sub Adam Carden grabbed an injury-time winner to keep alive FC United's title hopes in a 3-2 victory against Newcastle Blue Star in UniBond Division One North.

The Rebels look to be cruising after top-scorer Rory Patterson struck twice in the opening 21 minutes at Gigg Lane.

But the visitors hit back with just 13 minutes remaining before stunning FC with an equaliser five minutes later. However, Carden, who had only been on the pitch two minutes, slotted home deep into time added on after good work from Jerome Wright to cut the gap on leaders Skelmersdale.

Karl Marginson's treble-chasing side, who face Radcliffe Borough in the semi-final of the Manchester Premier Cup tomorrow night, are now nine points behind the table-toppers with five games in hand.

Boro went down to a heart-breaking 3-2 defeat against Bamber Bridge.

Goals from Neil Chappell and Griff Jones had put Boro 2-1 up with two minutes to go but Neil Spencer and Ryan Bowen scored late goals to deny Radcliffe.

Monday 17th March 2008

Boro and Rebel Reds in dress rehearsal

Source: The Bolton News

By Marc Higginson

IT'S a dress rehearsal for the Presidents Cup final tonight when Radcliffe Borough and FC United face off in the first of four clashes before the season ends in May.

The two sides meet in the league twice, together with two big cup clashes and Radcliffe director of football Peter Coyne is hoping his side can strike an early blow on the rebel Reds.

"We can't wait for it," said Coyne. "We have done well in the cups this season and we are looking forward to playing FC tonight.

"We are disappointed that we lost on Saturday, so playing in a semi-final against FC United in front of a big crowd is just what we need.

"We know how they play, and they know how we play. Hopefully we will get some luck and the run off the ball and we might get into another final."

Boro will be without the cup-tied Griff Jones, an ill Stephen Hill and injured Andy Scott for the clash.

Nicky Platt is still sidelined for the Reds after undergoing a hernia operation, but former Boro midfielder Simon Carden is available again after serving a one-game ban.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Carden keeps Rebels on target

Tony Glennon

17/ 3/2008

FC UNITED chief Karl Marginson conceded the Rebels were fortunate to step up their UniBond first division north championship assault with a 3-2 home victory over Newcastle Blue Star.

Sub Simon Carden's injury-time winner got FC out of jail after they'd squandered an early two-goal lead.Rory Patterson's double had put Marginson's men in control inside the first quarter.

But FC then allowed the visitors to draw level with two late goals before Carden's last-gasp strike secured a win which takes them to within nine points of leaders Skelmersdale, who crashed 1-0 to fellow title challengers Bradford Park Avenue.

"We very nearly shot ourselves in the foot, so, in the end, it turned out to be a massive three points for us," said Marginson, whose fifth-placed side will go top if they win their games in hand.

"We were by no means at our best, but credit to the boys for responding so well after Newcastle had equalised with just seven minutes left."

Meanwhile, second-placed Curzon Ashton wasted a chance to close the gap on Skem as they went down 1-0 at Garforth.

Premier leaders Witton remain firmly on course for the title and automatic promotion to Blue Square North despite being held 1-1 at Guiseley, but Ashton United's relegation fears returned with a vengeance in a 5-2 defeat at Eastwood.

Trafford maintained their firm grip on top spot in the Vodkat League with Scott Barlow's hat-trick helping them sink rock-bottom Nelson 4-2.

Baker left feeling Blue as Star suffer late agony

Mar 17 2008
Evening Chronicle

Unibond First

COACH Paul Baker can’t believe how Newcastle Blue Star returned home from their UniBond League Division One North game at FC United of Manchester empty-handed.

The Tynesiders, who trailed by two goals from the 12th minute, staged a magnificent rally to draw level, but in stoppage time they conceded another sloppy goal and all three points as they lost 3-2.

“We made a poor start but thereafter I thought the lads were fantastic,” said Baker.

“We dominated for large chunks of the game but we lacked concentration and paid the penalty since at least two of their goals were gifts.

“Overall I believe we played some fantastic football which was a joy to watch, and although we were two goals down at half-time I told the lads the game was there for the taking.

“Once Chris Emms reduced the deficit I knew we were in with a chance, and after Mark Sheeran levelled I told the subs in the last few minutes that we could win it but we threw it away.”

FC United of Manchester were full of praise for Baker’s side.

“They said after the game that we had been robbed and were the best team seen at Gigg Lane for a long time. They weren’t being patronising either,” added Baker.

The former Newcastle Benfield Bay Plastics manager was in charge of the side for the second time with manager Tommy Cassidy still officially on leave.

Baker went on to say: “It’s a bit of a strange position for me but the lads have put in a couple of good performances and I’m pleased with their commitment.

“Nobody has thrown the towel in, which might well have happened given the circumstances and the uncertainty.

“I’ve told them that we must battle for every point and play to the best of our ability until the last kick of the season.

“Nobody is certain what the future holds and we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Tonight, Baker faces another challenge when Blue Star travel to Bradford Park Avenue with a depleted squad.

The Tynesiders took only 14 players to Manchester and tonight miss Scott Bell, Lee Novak, Ben Pringle and Chris Fawcett while Gretna want to recall Michael Tait.

“Hopefully, Ben Webster, who took a knock on Saturday will be okay, but it looks as if I’ll be down to the bare bones again tonight,” admitted Baker.

“One thing’s for certain though, the lads who play will give me everything.”

Sunday, March 16, 2008

UniBond League: Barker’s up for the challenge

Mar 15 2008
The Journal

MANAGER Tommy Cassidy is officially “on leave” and coach Paul Baker will again be at the helm when Newcastle Blue Star visit FC United of Manchester in the UniBond League Division One North game this afternoon.

Cassidy has been away from Kingston Park since the club announced less than a fortnight ago they were applying for relegation from the UBL after just one season with the intention of returning to the Arngrove Northern League.

Baker, who was installed as Cassidy’s number two less than a month ago, took charge for the first time last Saturday.

“It’s not an ideal situation but I’ve always been hands on. It’s very strange with so much up in the air but the lads responded magnificently to the uncertainty last week,” said Baker.

The stand-in manager reckons today’s fixture is an ideal opportunity for those players who do not see their future at Blue Star in the ANL, adding: “FC United of Manchester attract gates in excess of 3,000 so it will be a shop window. I know that some of the lads will want to stay in the UBL.”

Two players have already left Kingston Park, with goalkeeper Craig Summersgill and Wayne Gordon being released. Ben Pringle and Shaun Davies, meanwhile, have been recalled from Morpeth Town and Sunderland RCA, respectively.

“There have been some comings and goings and we thought we needed to bolster the squad so we have cancelled the two loan deals,” said director of football Bob Morton.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Give your old football kit for charity at match

By Staff Reporter

FOOTBALL fans are being asked to do their bit for charity on Saturday by clearing out their cupboards and donating old kits to charity.

Staff and volunteers at Bury-based football club FC United of Manchester will be collecting football shirts, shorts and socks at Gigg Lane between 1pm and 3pm before the reds play Newcastle Blue Star.

All kits collected will be sent to children and adults from some of the poorest parts of the world.

Team manager Karl Marginson and first-team goalkeeper Sam Ashton, who used to play for Bolton Wanderers, have got behind the campaign, as has FC's general manager Andy Walsh.

Mr Walsh said: "In 2006, our supporters donated more than 300 shirts to KitAid and we want to do even better this time around.

"We are appealing to our supporters to clear out their cupboards and donate any clean unwanted football kit, including shirts, shorts and socks to the appeal."

Friday 14th March 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

FC title push hit by fixture pile-up

James Robson

14/ 3/2008

FC UNITED'S hopes of a third successive title are threatened by a massive fixture pile-up.
Karl Marginson's side will see their championship credentials pushed to the limit when they play seven games in just 15 days between March and April.

The cancellation of Wednesday's trip to Ossett Albion because of a waterlogged pitch has heaped more pressure on an already hectic schedule between now and the end of the season for the Rebels.

The Ossett clash has now been put back to April 3, in between fixtures with Lancaster City, Skelmersdale United, Wakefield, Bradford Park Avenue, Harrogate Railway and Lancaster City again between March 29 and April 12.

Should United win their games in hand on Unibond First Division North leaders Skelmersdale they would move to the top of the table.
But Marginson knows the fixture pile-up could be the biggest test for his side.

He said: "The teams above us will be looking over their shoulders and I'm sure points will be dropped and gained in the next six weeks."

Marginson is at least grateful he has a virtually fully fit squad ahead of tomorrow's home clash with Newcastle Blue Star.

FC United will be supporting KitAid during tomorrow's match, when they will be asking fans to donate unwanted football kits at collection points around Gigg Lane.

Andy Walsh, General Manager at FC United said: "We are delighted to be supporting KitAid once again."

Division one North

Mar 14 2008

Evening Chronicle

PAUL BAKER will again be in charge of Newcastle Blue Star in tomorrow’s UniBond League Division One North game at FC United of Manchester.

Following the dramatic events at Kingston Park in the last couple of weeks, Baker was stand-in manager for last week’s game against Harrogate Railway Athletic.

No-one from the club will confirm the position of manager Tommy Cassidy except to state that the former Newcastle United and Northern Ireland star is “on leave”.

Less than two weeks before the Board took the decision to apply for relegation from the UniBond League and move back into the Arngrove Northern League, Baker was brought in as coach to assist Cassidy.

“It’s been a very strange time for me with things up in the air. It has not been ideal but I’m hands on and have got to get on with it,” said Baker.

“I’ll be choosing the side for only the second time tomorrow and it is a really big game since they attract crowds in excess of 3,000.

“It will be an ideal opportunity for any of our players who don’t fancy being in the Arngrove Northern League next season to put themselves in the shop window.”

Blue Star have released Cumbria-based pair Wayne Gordon and goalkeeper Craig Summersgill.

In addition, they have recalled loan players Ben Pringle from Morpeth Town and Shaun Davies, who was at Sunderland RCA.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Final say for rampant FC

Tony Howard

13/ 3/2008

FC UNITED are on course for a treble after they progressed to the UniBond League President’s Cup final with a 3-1 win at Goole.

The reds, playing in a rarely seen blue third strip, had a classy brace from midfield dynamo Chris Baguley to thank for their easy victory.

The pick of the two Baguley belters was an audacious chip from nearly 40 yards out, which caught the home keeper stranded in no man’s land.

Baguley had already given United the lead in the first half, smashing in from close range.

Rory Patterson added the third to round off the win and set up a final with Radcliffe Borough at a venue yet to be confirmed.

FC are already in the semi-final of the Manchester Premier Cup, where they will also meet Radcliffe. That away game will be played on Tuesday, March 18, kick-off 7.45pm.

Manager Karl Marginson is standing by his prediction of treble glory for his side.

He said: "We go into every game believing we can win and that will not change.

"We’ve got to concentrate on the league as we want to win the title and go up a division.

"But the cups offer us a nice distraction and we all love a good cup final.

"We’re on a good run and we need to keep it going.

"If we keep our players fit we will be okay but we’ve got a lot of games to come so it’s going to be a big test."

United were also celebrating after the UniBond League decided against deducting points for the postponement of their match against Woodley on February 6.

A mix up with landlords Bury meant the Gigg Lane fixture was not fulfilled. The league fined FC £500 plus £65 costs but it had been feared that they would have points taken away.

FC play Newcastle Blue Star at Gigg Lane in the UniBond League Division One North on Saturday, March 15, kick-off 3pm.

United’s match at Ossett Albion, which was scheduled to be played last night, Wednesday, March 12, was called off due to the inclement weather in Yorkshire.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ossett Albion's clash with FC United postponed

GAME OFF: Albion's clash with FC United has fallen victim of the weather

By Nick Rigg

OSSETT Albion's big-money clash with UniBond Division 1 North giants FC United of Manchester has been postponed.

Eric Gilchrist's men were due for their biggest crowd of the season at Dimple Wells tonight against the Manchester United breakaway club, currently gunning for a play-off spot alongside Albion.

But the clash has had to be postponed for the second time this season due to the weather conditions.

Club spokesman Neville Wigglesworth said: "They (FC United) needed to know by lunchtime if the match was definately going ahead and we've informed them that it's off."

The postponement is the second this week for Albion, who were due to face Bradford Park Avenue in the semi-final of the West Riding County Cup on Monday night.

Gilchrist will now be gearing his troops up for the trip to Rossendale United on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

Last Updated: 12 March 2008 1:27 PM

Rebels aiming to turn up heat

12/ 3/2008

FC UNITED boss Karl Marginson is urging his Rebels to seize the chance to increase the pressure on UniBond first division north top two Skelmersdale and Curzon Ashton by winning at Ossett Albion tonight (7.45pm).

Victory for FC, who are unbeaten in their last ten league games, would take them to within five points of second-placed Curzon and leave both the Tameside outfit and leaders Skem looking nervously over their shoulders.

"We have plenty of games in hand but must make full use of them, starting with tonight, if we're to win our third successive title," said Marginson.

FC will be looking for another solid display from goalkeeper Aaron Grundy, whose outstanding performances since he joined them on loan from Bury have just earned him the UniBond League's monthly Macron "Safe Hands" award.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Red rebels in the pink

Source: M.E.N.

FC UNITED seized on their UniBond Presidents Cup reprieve to secure a place in the final with a 3-1 win at AFC Goole.

The Rebels were reinstated after their quarter-final conquerors Nantwich were thrown out for fielding an ineligible player.

And FC made the most of their unexpected opportunity with two Chris Baguley goals - one of them a shot from 40 yards - plus another from Rory Patterson taking them sailing through a semi which was spoiled by a strong wind.

FC's opponents in the final will be neighbours Radcliffe, who they also meet in the Manchester Premier Cup semis.

Struggling Boro again shrugged off their poor league form to book a final ticket with a 1-0 win at Ossett Albion courtesy of Craig Dawson's scrambled 26th minute strike.

Meanwhile, to add to FC's joy, their division one north title hopes were also given a double boost as big rivals Curzon Ashton and Bamber Bridge, both lost.

Second-placed Curzon's 2-1 defeat at Clitheroe came as a bitter blow as they went down to a last-minute goal against 10-men.

Jorg Diaz gave Curzon a 20th minute lead, but Clitheroe hit back to deny them a chance to go top.

Trafford maintained their eight-point lead over second-placed Salford in the Vodkat League with goals by Chris Mackay and Kayden Coppin giving them a 2-0 derby victory over Maine Road.

Supporters reassured over roadworks

Source: This is Lancashire

By Dale Haslam

FOOTBALL fans have been assured that roadworks taking place on Gigg Lane next week will not affect the two teams that play there.

Though Bury Council has taken out an order giving it permission to potentially close the road for a month from Monday (March 17), highways officers only anticipate work to last four days, during which neither Bury FC or FC United of Manchester are due to play there.

Providing there are no delays, the road should reopen before FC United's fixture against Radcliffe Borough on March 22.

FC to meet Radcliffe in cup final

By Liam Chronnell

FC UNITED took advantage of their President's Cup reprise to set up a final showdown with neighbours Radcliffe Borough.

The breakaway club thought they had blown their chances in the competition when they were hammered 5-1 by Nantwich Town in the quarter-finals.

But the Rebels were reinstated after it was discovered the Cheshire club had played an ineligible player - and they grabbed their second chance with both hands with a 3-1 victory at Goole.

A Chris Baguley double, including a spectacular 40-yard lob, and Rory Patterson's 32nd goal of the season was enough to put the Reds through.

FC, meanwhile, escaped with a fine after being found guilty of failing to fulfil a fixture against Woodley Sports on February 6 at a UniBond League hearing on Thursday night.

United, who feared they were facing a points deduction, were fined £500 plus £65 costs of the hearing.

Craig Dawson's 26th-minute strike booked Borough's place in the final with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Ossett Albion.

Michael Oates spurned a couple of fine chances to make the game safe, but Peter Coyne's side managed to hold on.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Rebels fined after pitch row

8/ 3/2008

FC UNITED have been fined for failing to play a home fixture that was called off by landlords Bury.

The UniBond League have hit FC with a £500 penalty for not fulfilling their First Division North game against Woodley Sports at Gigg Lane on February 6.

FC have also been ordered to pay £65 towards the cost of the hearing - but the club has not been deducted any points.

The postponement caused controversy at the time, with the club issuing a statement in the aftermath accusing a Bury director of calling off the game after the pitch had passed a referee's inspection.

FC fans were also frustrated because the postponement denied them the chance of a public tribute to the Munich dead on the 50th anniversary of the air disaster.

But Shakers director Iain Mills, who has since resigned from the board over an unrelated matter, defended the postponement, arguing that it was in the best interests of both Bury and FC United as the game would have been the third in five days at Gigg Lane.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

FC United 3 Curzon Ashton 2

Tony Howard

6/ 3/2008

FC UNITED’S Rory Patterson struck a Stella blow in the race for the title with a brace against rivals Curzon Ashton.

The mercurial Irishman had been a doubt for the game after injuring his neck at the weekend, but after a few pints of Stella Artois on Saturday night his muscles relaxed and he was passed fit to lead United to a 3-2 on Wednesday.

The UniBond League Division One North title race is hotting up with FC now able to top the table if they win all their games in hand.

Before the game, Curzon had been the only side United couldn’t catch, and they started the Gigg Lane clash with a point to prove after FC had won the previous fixture 2-0 in December.

Former red Rhodri Giggs hit a post inside the first five minutes of his return to Bury and Ashton’s Jorge Diaz hit the bar with a superb curling effort.

Reds keeper Aaron Grundy also pulled off a fine save from Giggs as Curzon took advantage of the pulsating wind by taking it to FC in the opening exchanges.

The reds gradually struggled their way back into the game after Ashton keeper David Carnell suffered an injury.

Patterson took fair advantage of the man’s ailment by side footing the opener into the corner where he couldn’t possibly reach it.

That gave FC the advantage at half time, but it lasted barely 30 seconds into the restart as Michael Norton headed the visitors level.

FC skipper Dave Chadwick stooped to restore the advantage soon after, but then Giggs looked to have stolen the show when he made the most of a slip by Liam Foster to tap in for 2-2.

But Patterson wasn’t going to let anyone else steal the limelight, as he smashed home late on to assert the reds’ title ambitions.

FC are now in fourth place, nine points behind leaders Skelmersdale, but with four games in hand.

United travel to Goole in the UniBond President’s Cup on Saturday then they play away at Ossett Albion on Wednesday, March 12.

For further details visit the website:

Prolific Patterson is the hero again

By Liam Chronnell

FC United 3 Curzon Ashton 2

RORY Patterson once again proved FC United's matchwinner as they cut the gap on leaders Skelmersdale to nine points with a crucial victory against title rivals Curzon Ashton.

The prolific striker struck twice to hand the Rebels, who have four games in hand on the leaders, the points in an entertaining UniBond Division One North clash at Gigg Lane.

Curzon hit the woodwork three times before Patterson handed United the lead in first-half injury time when he finished off a flowing FC move.

The visitors were level just 27 seconds after the restart when the division's top scorer, Michael Norton, headed home his 35th goal of the season.

But United captain Dave Chadwick restored the breakaway club's advantage on 55 minutes.

FC old boy Rhodri Giggs, brother of Manchester United star Ryan, came back to haunt his former club when he levelled on 69 minutes.

But Patterson's 31st goal of the season four minutes later secured the points for the Rebels, who could have points docked when they go before league officials tonight after being charged with failing to fulfil a fixture last month.

As it stands, FC are fourth, two points behind Bamber Bridge with a game in hand and eight behind Curzon with three games in hand.

11:15pm Wednesday 5th March 2008

Rebels sweat on hearing

By Liam Chronnell

FC UNITED's hopes of a third successive title could hinge on the outcome of a league hearing.

The Rebels go before UniBond League chiefs on Thursday night facing a charge of failing to fulfil a fixture last month - and could receive a heavy fine, points deduction or even, though highly unlikely, expulsion from the league.

United were forced to postpone their Division One North clash with Woodley Sports on March 6 at the last minute after ignoring the fact that landlords Bury had called the game off 15 days earlier.

But the Reds - 11 points behind leaders Skelmersdale with four games in hand before tonight's vital home clash with rivals Curzon Ashton - know any loss of points could have a serious impact on their championship aspirations.

"I've not known something like this before and would hope the league would be sympathetic given that they know the position we face in not having our own ground and that we are tenants," said FC boss Karl Marginson.

"It's a league and points should be played for, not deducted."

Patterson was passed fit for tonight's match with fellow title-hopefuls Curzon, while midfielder Nicky Platt (groin) and defender Bradley Howard (hamstring) will both come into Marginson's plans after recovering from injury.

4:53pm Wednesday 5th March 2008

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

FC United 2 Bamber Bridge 2

3/ 3/2008

FC UNITED'S hopes of a third successive league title suffered a body-blow as they were held by UniBond Division One North promotion foes Bamber Bridge in front of a Gigg Lane crowd of 3,348.

But it would have been worse for fifth-placed FC, whose offer of free admission to under-18s resulted in a bumper attendance, had Chris Baguley not saved their bacon with a spectacular injury-time equaliser.

Baguley struck from 30 yards to rescue a point for the Rebels after they had twice trailed to Alex Porter goals, the second of which arrived with just a minute left on the clock.

Simon Carden netted FC's first equaliser, firing home from close-range, but they were staring defeat in the face when Baguley salvaged a draw which means they now trail the top two, Skelmersdale and Curzon Ashton, by 11 points.

But FC United have been reinstated to the UniBond League President's Cup after their quarter-final conquerors Nantwich were thrown out for fielding an ineligible player in their 5-1 victory.

Karl Marginson's men will now visit Goole in the semis on Saturday.

Monday, March 03, 2008

FC United of Manchester 2 - 2 Bamber Bridge

Brig were robbed of a crucial win by a stoppage time equaliser on Saturday.

In front of FC United's biggest crowd of the season, the top of the table clash ended all square thanks to a Chris Baguley strike in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Bamber Bridge's captain Alex Porter looked to have won the game when he latched on to a Tom Ince through ball to score in the 89th minute.

But it wasn't to be and the Irongate outfit left Gigg Lane feeling harshly treated by the officials.

An entertaining first half lived up to the atmosphere made by 3,348 fans, but it was the Brig followers who had the most to shout about as a strong penalty appeal was turned down in the 20th minute.

Ryan Bowen, playing in a midfield role, was put through by Danny Mahoney, and was floored inside the box as he went round United's 'keeper Aaron Grundy.

Amazingly Brig's appeals were waved away and Bowen was booked.

However, five minutes after half time Brig went in front.

Dave Eaton broke down the left and crossed for Porter to put Brig 1-0 up.

Two minutes later FC United were level when a long diagonal ball found Jerome Wright and his inch perfect cross from the left flank was converted by Simon Carden.

Chances came at both ends, but it was Brig who looked the more likley as FC began to tire towards the end.

Porter's second looked to have bagged all three points, but then came the inordinate amount of stoppage time and Baguley's 25-yard equaliser.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

FC United 2 Bamber Bridge 2

2/ 3/2008

FC UNITED'S hopes of a third successive league title suffered a body-blow as they were held by UniBond Division One North promotion foes Bamber Bridge in front of a Gigg Lane crowd of 3,348.

But it would have been worse for fifth-placed FC, whose offer of free admission to under-18s resulted in a bumper attendance, had Chris Baguley not saved their bacon with a spectacular injury-time equaliser.

Baguley struck from 30 yards to rescue a point for the Rebels after they had twice trailed to Alex Porter goals, the second of which arrived with just a minute left on the clock.

Simon Carden netted FC's first equaliser, firing home from close-range, but they were staring defeat in the face when Baguley salvaged a draw which means they now trail the top two, Skelmersdale and Curzon Ashton, by 11 points.

But FC United have been reinstated to the UniBond League President's Cup after their quarter-final conquerors Nantwich were thrown out for fielding an ineligible player in their 5-1 victory.

Karl Marginson's men will now visit Goole in the semis on Saturday.