Monday, May 05, 2008

Third consecutive promotion for rebels

By Liam Chronnell

FC United 4 Skelmersdale 1

UniBond Division One North

FC United's meteoric rise continued as they sealed a third successive promotion with a rousing victory over Skelmersdale United in the play-off final.

The Rebels, formed by disenchanted Manchester United fans unhappy at the takeover of the club by Malcolm Glazer in 2005, are now three divisions below the Football League.

Sean McConville's superb 10th-minute free-kick put the Merseysiders in front, but the game's turning point came five minutes before half-time.

Jerome Wright's header was going in when Skem captain Michael Whittle deliberately handled on the goal line. Referee Billy Khatib had no option but to show the defender a red card and Nicky Platt coolly sent goalkeeper Ryan McMahon the wrong way with his penalty.

Skipper Dave Chadwick put the Reds in front six minutes after the restart when he headed home at the far post from Jamie Baguley's deep free kick.

Wright then had a goal' disallowed when the official might have played an advantage after the winger had been fouled in the build-up, before the game descended into chaos on 61 minutes.

Khatib awarded a second penalty when Michael Duffy handled while on the floor. Platt's effort ballooned off the crossbar but, as the players waited for the ball to come down, the referee, though probably no-one else in the ground, saw the slightest of pushes on Simon Carden and pointed to the spot again. This time Rory Patterson accepted the responsibility, and was fortunate to see his spot-kick spin in after McMahon had saved it.

Substitute Kevin Leadbetter became the second Skem player to receive his marching orders moments later as frustrations threatened to boil over.

FC's Chris Baguley secured UniBond Premier football on 80 minutes when he drilled home from 25 yards to spark joyous celebrations among the 3,258 crowd.