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