Source: Northwich Guardian
By Andrew Simpson »
FOOTBALL fate decided that a Scouser should finally end FC United of Manchester’s seven-matches winning run in league and cup.
Andy Fowler’s flourish was the best moment of quality in an absorbing contest, arrowing a shot past keeper Sam Ashton on the hour.
Vics then hung on with ten men following David Thompson’s dismissal.
“A real striker’s goal,” was Andy Preece’s verdict of the winner.
And he should know.
Fowler made space for a shot by exploiting Richard Battersby’s discomfort of playing out of position, following deft headed touches by John McAliskey and then Wayne Riley.
But the Rebels, who twice saw shots from the left boot of Jerome Wright hit the crossbar rather than the net, piled on the pressure after that.
They might have nicked a point in the contest’s final attack, but substitute Simon Carden could not stretch far enough to divert Sam Ovington’s cross past James Spencer.
Instead Vics end their worst run of league form this term – three games without a win – to wrestle back a share of the Premier Division’s second spot.
Preece added “It’s a huge win for us.
“After a couple of defeats it was important to bounce back to stay in contention at the top of the table.”
His team started brighter, the visitors perhaps still recovering from the brilliance of their FA Cup win at Rochdale last weekend.
But the ex-Bury boss played his part too, switching on-loan Dominic Collins to full back to combat Wright to lessen FC United’s attacking threat from the outset.
Riley twice went close, his first shot deflected to safety by a defender after Steve Woods’ free kick had fallen kindly, then Scott McManus timed his block perfectly after Vics’ own FA Cup hero from a year ago had picked Kyle Jacobs’ pocket.
At the other end Spencer scooped Karl Munroe’s header out of the top corner from Wright’s set piece.
Neil Sorvel should have done better than to shoot off target after Fowler had cut back Collins’ pass, then McAliskey conjured a chance for himself that he failed to make the most of.
Ex-Northwich winger Carlos Roca should have broken the deadlock when he raced onto McManus’ defence-splitting pass on 42 minutes, only to scuff weakly wide with only Spencer to beat.
After half time the hosts should have made him pay from their best move of the match.
Steve Woods’ raking pass reached Fowler who, as he would in his match-winning moment, danced past Battersby before squaring for McAliskey.
But he failed to force the ball over the line with just Ashton in his way.
Fowler’s finish followed, only for Vics to cede the initiative when Thompson was sent off as punishment for a second caution.
FC United sensed there was a point to pinch, but they could not land the same knockout blow that did for Dale.
Vics’ Star Man Paul Henry. Classic case of you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.
Henry’s energy and ball recovery was relentless, freeing up Wayne Riley and Neil Sorvel to do the things they do best.
Andy Preece’s team has a better balance with the ex-Witton Albion captain in the centre of the field, and Vics won that battle against subdued Jake Cottrell and Nicky Platt.
A word too for Dominic Collins, brilliant in the face of Jerome Wright – FC United’s most potent attacker – even in an unfamiliar role at full back.
Vics (4-4-1-1) Spencer (GK), Collins, Cherel, Woods, Thompson, Fowler (Crane 90), Sorvel, Henry, Rowe (Fitzpatrick 82) Riley, McAliskey (McArdle 90)
Subs not used Flowers, Summerskill
Goal Fowler 62
Booked Woods, Thompson (both fouls)
Sent off Thompson (second caution)
FC United (4-4-2) Ashton (GK), Jacobs (Holden 10), Munroe, McManus, Battersby, Roca, Platt, Cottrell, Wright, Deegan (Ovington 75), Hurst (Carden 75)
Subs not used Wolfenden, Parker
Booked Battersby, Munroe (both fouls)
Referee Daniel Meeson (Newcastle-under-Lyne)
Attendance 1, 665