Friday, November 05, 2010

FC United keep Old Trafford dream alive with last-gasp winner

Source: Daily Mirror

Published 22:15 05/11/10 By MirrorFootball

FC United of Manchester grabbed a controversial stoppage-time winner to keep their hopes of meeting Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup alive.

The Evo-Stick League side, making their maiden appearance in the first round proper, had looked to have a blown a two-goal lead when Anthony Elding and Craig Dawson cancelled out Nicky Platt and Jake Cottrell's goals for United.

But striker Mike Norton's late winner ensured they would take their place in Sunday's second-round draw and remain on course for a possible meeting with the club a group of their supporters splintered from in 2005.

On a pitch covered with water following 90 minutes of rain, Rochdale goalkeeper Josh Lillis thought he had control of the ball by his near post, only for it to come free and allow Norton to tap into an empty net.

Lillis and his team-mates claimed Norton had kicked the ball out of his hands, but referee Geoff Eltringham waved away their protests and the United fans flooded on to the field when he blew the final whistle seconds later.

Karl Marginson's United side had taken the lead three minutes before the break when Platt, a former Liverpool academy player, slotted home after Jerome Wright's pass.

A one-goal lead became a two-goal lead four minutes after the interval when Cottrell, a former Rochdale trainee, drove in from 25 yards, before Elding reduced the deficit with a glancing header after 53 minutes.

Dawson then looked to have taken the game to a replay with another header with 12 minutes remaining, before Norton won it four minutes into time added on.

"I thought the referee was going to blow for a free-kick but he only had one hand on it," said Norton afterwards. "We were dreading a replay, my legs wouldn't have taken it."

Marginson added on ESPN: "Rochdale possibly didn't deserve to lose but that's the FA Cup."