Monday, March 15, 2010

Durham City win - at the 29th time of asking

Source: Durham Times

9:44am Monday 15th March 2010

By Kevin Hewitt »

FC United of Manchester 1 Durham City 2

IT'S highly unlikely that many of Durham’s squad will ever again play at a Football League ground in front of over two thousand fans, so their UniBond Premier Division fixture against FC United of Manchester, at their adopted home of Bury FC’s Gigg Lane, was always going to be memorable.

For a team that had lost its previous 28 games and started the afternoon twenty-eight points behind their nearest rivals to overcome the handicap of conceding an early goal, fight back to take their first three points of the season and receive a standing ovation from the home crowd at the end is stuff of which dreams are made. So for City’s young and inexperienced squad to achieve just that was nothing short of remarkable.

Jake Cottrell had an early chance for the home side but his rising shot easily cleared the bar but he made amend on nine minutes when he skipped past City keeper Rhys Jobling to cross for Carlos Roca to head in at the far post despite the best efforts of Gareth Ayers to hack the ball off the line.

Five minutes later City were back on level terms when skipper Andrew Stephenson picked up the ball just inside United’s half and from fully forty-five yards out floated the ball over the furiously backpedalling keeper Sam Ashton and in off the crossbar for a sensational equaliser.

Jobling produced a superb full length save to his right to deny Jerome Wright while for City Max Stoker’s mishit shot from a Craig Harbord free-kick was easily held by Ashton.

Ludovic Quistin fired into the side netting from an Adriano Rigolioso cross, who then tried his luck with a 25 yard effort which passed well over the top, before home skipper David Chadwick headed wide when well placed as the Reds pushed forward.

Elliott Cutts had a shot on the turn held by Ashton low down before City suffered a remarkable escape just before the interval when Gareth Ayers hammered an attempted clearance from a Quistin cross of the underside of the bar before the ball was finally cleared.

Jobling then made a fine save at the feet of Ben Deegan in what was the final action of the first half to leave the match evenly poised at the break.

City went in front in the 49th minute when Ludovic Quistin inexplicably handled in the area and Cutts fired the resultant penalty beyond Sam Ashton much to the delight of their small band of travelling support.

Moments later Jobling made a save at point-blank range to deny Wright before Deegan twice spurned opportunities to draw the home side level firstly with a header, from a Phil Marsh corner, which glanced the top of the crossbar and then when he fired a Wright left-wing cross over the top from close range.

The home side should have been level on 56 minutes when Ayers recklessly brought down Roca on the by line but Jobling made amends for his first-goal error when he turned Deegan’s fiercely struck penalty over the top.

Substitute Joe Yoffee blazed over from a lay-off by Deegan, who then sent a looping header over the top from a Marsh cross as the Red’s piled forward in search of an equaliser.

Both Cottrell and Quistin fired over and wide respectively but with the Reds being urged on gaps were starting to appear at the back and substitute Rufus Ayre had a 20-yard effort easily held by Ashton who then made a superb block to deny Stephenson on the break.

There were further chances for Roca and Wright in the dying minutes but City’s young side were not to be denied and held on for a remarkable and well deserved victory that was warmly applauded by home fans and visitors alike.