4:36pm Wednesday 29th April 2009
By Liam Chronnell
KARL Marginson believes FC United can win the UniBond Premier League next season after agonisingly missing out on the play-offs.
The Rebels came within two minutes of a top-five finish — and possible record-equalling fourth successive promotion — on a dramatic final day of the season.
FC were still on course for a play-off place even after Bradford Park Avenue equalised to make it 1-1 with just five minutes to go at Gigg Lane.
But an 88th-minute winner for promotion rivals Kendal Town against Buxton saw the Cumbrians leapfrog them in the table and claim the final spot.
Marginson, however, insists the breakaway club will come back stronger next season.
“If we can keep these players together for next season, with maybe a couple of additions, I can see us winning the league,” said the manager.
“Since we’ve had this group of players from before Christmas our form has been magnificent.
“I have already started speaking to the lads about staying for next season and so far their responses have all been positive.”
FC’s hopes of equalling Truro City’s British record of four consecutive promotions looked to be dead and buried at Christmas.
Languishing in mid-table and having lost 24-goal top-scorer Kyle Wilson to injury, only the most optimistic United fan would have thought they could continue their meteoric rise up the non-league pyramid.
But a stunning run in which they took 24 points from a possible 30 in an unbeaten run-in saw them go into the last game of the campaign occupying the final play-off spot.
Knowing a victory would virtually guarantee them a place in the end-of-season shake-up, FC made the perfect start through defender Adam Tong’s eighth-minute opener.
But Mark Bett’s late equaliser had a crowd of 3,718 — FC’s biggest for over two years — on tenterhooks, before Kendal sealed a 3-2 victory to end the dream of playing Blue Square North football next term.
“I was being updated and knew Buxton had got it back to 2-2, but it just wasn’t to be,” said Marginson.
“Little things didn’t go our way, but the main thing now is to stick together and get stronger as a club.”