FC United of Manchester 3-1 AFC Fylde
Satuday 24th January 2015
FC United are into the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy for the first ever time after causing another cup upset – this time beating AFC Fylde 3-1 with a fantastic performance at the Tameside Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Reds raced into a three goal lead by halftime as Craig Lindfield bagged a brace and Jerome Wright fired home a penalty. And there was no looking back. The Coasters got on the scoresheet in the 56th minute but it proved to be little more than a consolation as Karl Marginson’s side comfortably qualified for the last eight.
FC United go into Monday’s draw as the lowest ranked team left in the competition with all the other remaining clubs plying their trade in the Conference divisions. Saturday’s victory was our third win over Conference North opposition but this was undoubtedly the greatest achievement so far as Fylde are top of the Conference North and had won their previous 10 games.
United came out and controlled the game, playing with the confidence that the current unbeaten run has obviously brought to the changing room and terraces. Even so, very few of the 1,732 supporters in attendance expected the Reds to be 2-0 up inside 20 minutes.
After the usual exchanges early on, United got on the front foot and after just 15 minutes they had the lead. Youth team product Tom Brown was back in the starting XI and he was justifying manager Karl Marginson’s faith in him with an excellent performance beyond his years in the centre of the park. It was Brown who played in Wolfenden and he weaved his way into the box on the right hand side, before squaring the ball for Lindfield in the six yard box for the simplest of tap-ins.
Not content with a one goal lead, United came forward again in search of the second. It took them barely two minutes to find it. Lindfield bagged what’s almost becoming his trademark goal – cutting in from the left hand side before curling the ball into the far corner for 2-0.
The atmosphere on the terraces was, as usual, bouncing and with this backing the players on the pitch gained a control over the game that nobody had really anticipated coming into the game. In truth, Fylde were never in the game in the first 45 minutes but the odd glimpse of a half chance did suggest that United may just need a third to give themselves that extra breathing room.
Thankfully, the third did come before the break as United were awarded a penalty after a cynical challenge on Greg Daniels on the edge of the box. Up stepped Wright who fired the ball home to give United an almost unbelievable 3-0 lead at the break.
Three goals up at the break, against a team topping the division above there was the feeling at the break that the visitors were going to bring an onslaught to the United defence in the second half. Despite getting a goal back just ten minutes into the second half and the best efforts of the visiting team, a resolute defensive performance from the Reds ensured that any comeback never got off the ground as United easily kept their opponents to just the one goal.
Indeed, it was United who had the best chances to add to the score. Moments before Fylde scored, the usually potent Greaves fired a one-on-one effort wide and later on Lindfield was denied a hat trick as his superbly hit free-kick was just tipped over the bar.
The second half performance didn’t really hit the heights of the first half one; in truth it couldn’t, but it didn’t need to. United stayed calm, defending well and providing their own chances to add to the score but never looking in any trouble of collapsing and surrendering the lead at any point. Such was United’s dominance, Fylde were unable to conjure up the scares that Chorley and Barwell have in previous rounds.
One of the loudest cheers of the day was when FC United legend Mike Norton made his long awaited return, after three months out with a serious knee ligament injury, as a late substitute for Greaves, which was a nice touch to what was in truth a fantastic afternoon of football at the Tameside Stadium.
The Reds now eagerly await the draw for the quarter finals on Monday, knowing that any draw will be a tough one on paper but the Reds have now knocked out three teams from the league above and of course came from two down with 15 minutes remaining earlier in the competition to beat Barwell. Form like this; added to the always vocal support, gives FC United confidence that money simply cannot buy going into the next round.
Website man of the match: Craig Lindfield – Would have selected every player (if possible) but Lindfield made the immediate difference with his two goals, the second being a superb solo effort which set the tone for the afternoon and stunned the visitors
Photo courtesy: FCUM