Rochdale 2 FC United of Manchester 3
By Darren Witcoop
Saturday, 6 November 2010
A controversial winner deep in added time from Michael Norton earned FC United of Manchester a place in the second round of the FA Cup at Spotland last night.
The Evo-Stik Premier League side are now just one game away from the third round – and the possibility of facing "parent" club Manchester United.
FC United had been 2-0 up against their League One opponents, Nicky Platt and Jake Cotterill scoring either side of half-time, but Rochdale had drawn level through Anthony Elding and Craig Dawson's header from a corner and were pressing for a third. However, the visitors broke away in the last minute of additional time and when Dale keeper Josh Lillis fumbled, Norton was left to tap into a empty net to spark wild celebrations among their 3,500 fans. Lillis was adamant the striker had kicked the ball out of his hands and was booked for his complaints.
The visitors, formed out of the protest movement against the Glazers takeover at Old Trafford five years ago, may have stormed through the lower leagues but they knew Rochdale, who are four divisions above them in the football pyramid, were not ready to become a bit-part in an FA Cup fairytale.
Midfielder Gary Jones broke free, rounded goalkeeper Sam Ashton, but saw Karl Munroe scramble the ball clear from his own line inside a minute played. There were other chances, but FC United withstood the early onslaught, and it was not just one-way traffic.
Carlos Roca, who despite his exotic name hails from nearby Withington, and Jerome Wright forced saves from home goalkeeper Lillis in quick succession. Moments after Rochdale striker Elding somehow fired over, FC United took a 42nd-minute lead when Platt chipped home after collecting Wright's pass.
Rochdale (4-4-2): Lillis; Wiseman, Dawson, Holness, Widdowson; Barry-Murphy, Adams (Akpa-Akpro 56), Kennedy, Jones; Elding, O'Grady. Substitutes not used: Edwards (gk), Done, Joe Thompson, Josh Thompson, Gray, Flynn,
FC United of Manchester (4-4-2): Ashton; Jacobs, Murnoe, McManus, Battersby (Holden, 87); Roca (Ovington, 74), Platt, Cotterell, Wright; Deegan (Carden, 85), Norton. Substitutes not used: Hibbert, Hurst, Parker, Ayres
Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne & Wear)