Thursday, April 30, 2009

'We'll be back'

Stuart Brennan

April 30, 2009

FC UNITED just missed out on promotion to the UniBond Premier League in a dramatic finish to the season.

The reds failed to beat Bradford Park Avenue in front of a 3,718 Gigg Lane crowd and results elsewhere went against them with promotion rivals Kendal scoring a late winner to pip United to a play-off place.

FC were on course for a place in the top five until a heart-stopping final five minutes at Gigg Lane when Bradford scored an equaliser.

It looked promising for the highest crowd of the season, many wearing Eric Cantona face masks as part of a publicity campaign from those behind the forthcoming Ken Loach film Looking for Eric, which stars FC fans.

Defender Adam Tong prodded in an eighth minute opener, and goalkeeper Sam Ashton pulled off two excellent saves to keep the reds on track.

But the drama intensified as Mark Bett headed in for 1-1, and news filtered through that Kendal - who had thrown away a two-goal lead - had managed a third goal against Buxton for 3-2.

A tense four minutes of added time saw Ashton make another fine save and in the dying seconds, the ball fell to Tong who had a great opportunity to grab all three points. Unfortunately, his effort went inches wide in what was the last real chance of the game.

That put paid to hopes of FC equalling Truro City’s British record of earning four successive promotions.

FC, who were languishing in mid-table at Christmas, finished the season with seven wins and two draws, despite losing top scorer Kyle Wilson for the final three months.

But, with many of his players still horizontal on the pitch having given their all in a tense match, manager Karl Marginson issued a rallying call.

He vowed to lead his flat-out heroes to the Unibond First Division North title next season.

Margy said: "If we can keep these players together for next season, with maybe a couple of additions, I can see us winning the league.

"We’ve had this group of players together since before Christmas and 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."