Sunday, October 11, 2009

Entertainment on and off the pitch

Source: The FA

By Julian Bennetts - Sunday, 11 October, 2009

3-3 thriller at Gigg Lane on Sunday.
FC United 3-3 Stalybridge Celtic
The FA Cup, sponsored by E.ON
Third Round Qualifying
Sunday 11 October 2009
Gigg Lane, Bury FC
Winning clubs receive £7500

When over 2,800 supporters turned up in fancy dress to watch FC United of Manchester face Stalybridge Celtic in their FA Cup Third Round Qualifying tie, the last thing they would have wanted was for all the entertainment to be in the stands rather than on the pitch. So it was fortunate, then, that the game was an absolute cracker which ended in a 3-3 draw.

FC United will feel aggrieved that they did not settle the matter at the first time of asking though. Leading 3-1 thanks to goals from Carlos Roca, Phil Marsh and David Chadwick, they eased off and paid the price as Stalybridge came back into the game with two quick-fire goals to ensure the sides will meet again in a replay on Tuesday.

So a bumper crowd kitted out in 70’s clothes, six goals, and entertainment all round – except, that is, if you are on the coaching staff of either of the sides involved.

“That was cracking entertainment for the neutrals, but it was horribly nerve-wracking for us,” said Ray Soule, FC United’s assistant manager.

“It really was a great game, with end-to-end football and lots of chances apart from the six goals.

“There was a really good crowd in, in part because of the international break, which meant we got a lot of Manchester United fans coming to support us.

“And I thought they should have seen an FC United victory. We had a lot of joy going forward and our fitness levels were really good, which meant we hassled them a lot.

“At 3-1 up, we should have put the game to bed, but Joe O’Neil scored two goals in quick succession – although we thought that his second, Stalybridge’s third, was for a penalty that should never have been given.”

So FC United may be cursing themselves for not having already sealed their place in the next round, but Soule believes his side will have taken a lot of belief from their enterprising performance.

“We’ll be very confident going into the replay,” he insisted. “We still think we can cause an upset and we are very confident in our own abilities.

“I never worry about any other side, as I know that if my team turns up then we can achieve something. But I’m sure that whatever happens, the replay on Tuesday is going to be very entertaining!”