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.