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.