Stockport County 1-2 FC United of Manchester
Saturday 5 December 2015
National League North
by Matthew Healy
FC United breathed new life into their struggling season with a hard fought and well deserved 2-1 victory at high flying Stockport County on Saturday afternoon in front of a league record attendance of 4,797 supporters.
Tom Greaves headed home the winner with 18 minutes to go after Rory Fallon had given the Reds a halftime lead before they were pegged back by Jonny Margetts’ equaliser for the hosts.
The win – FC United’s first in the league for nearly three months – lifts the Reds out of the relegation zone and will give everyone a much needed boost after the club’s poorest ever run of form. In an even match, United created the better chances and could have won by more as they had a perfectly legitimate goal disallowed for offside.
Manager Karl Marginson has shown his ruthless side in the last month with five new signings joining the club and a number of popular players leaving. With midfielders Harry Winter and George Thomson settling into the side well, Margy gave debuts to centre-back Tom Smyth and midfielder Scott Kay.
Smyth impressed by bringing some much needed stability into the back four. It was a shame that the former Chorley defender’s only mistake of the match was seized upon by Tranmere Rovers loan-signing Margetts for County’s goal.
That one blemish aside, Smyth played a huge part in helping FC United keep the Hatters at bay. The hosts were quick out of the blocks in both halves. Initially, it looked like the Reds would be weathering a storm all afternoon at the windswept Edgeley Park, such was the pace and precision of County’s attacks.
But United held firm throughout the first half. Stockport’s best chance came inside the first five minutes when Margetts was released one-on-one with Dave Carnell and looked destined to score. But the Reds goalkeeper saved well, deflecting the ball round the post with his feet.
Both teams were pressing hard and restricting each other to long shots. It looked as if the teams would go in level at the break when Sam Madeley picked up the ball in the final minute of the first half.
The former Salford City forward ran at the County defence and slipped the ball out to the left to the onrushing Fallon. Fallon’s cross-cum-shot was inadvertently headed home by a covering defender, Paul Connolly. If truth be told, United’s lead was against the run of play and was rather fortunate but many Reds will feel Margy’s side were overdue a bit of luck.
Into the second half and Stockport were determined to get back on level terms as soon as possible. Five minutes in, Margetts curled a free-kick just wide of the right post. It would be the final warning for the Reds.
Five minutes later, the pacey forward made it 1-1 after dispossessing Smyth 25 yards out. United’s new centre-back mistimed a header and let the ball bounce free. Margetts reacted the quickest, raced clear of the defence and fired the ball into the bottom right corner for the equaliser.
The goal helped the County faithful find their voices and there seemed to be a sense around the ground that Stockport had the momentum and would try to turn the screw on United. However, it didn’t pan out like that and – perhaps surprisingly – FC United played the best football of the match for the next 20 minutes.
Ten minutes after conceding, United should have been back ahead. Winter broke forward confidently and he slipped in Madeley. His first shot was parried by goalkeeper Andreas Arestidou but he steadied himself to chip home the rebound. However, the referee’s assistant had raised his flag for offside. It looked like a controversial decision at the time and the video replay suggests Madeley was onside.
United continued to pile forward and three minutes later, Greaves had an acrobatic bicycle-kick headed off the line and over the bar after the keeper had been beaten. Madeley was poleaxed in the built up to Greaves’ attempt and had a strong penalty claim waved away by the referee.
The Reds were playing like they did last season, en route to becoming champions of the Northern Premier Division. The waves of Reds attacks were full of confidence, had plenty of movement and quick, short passes, and carried a threat of scoring a goal.
Eventually, it was more than just a threat. With 18 minutes to go, substitute Rory Patterson chased down the ball and fed it back to Fallon on the left wing. The winger crossed to the near post where Greaves headed the winner into the top corner, sending the 1,200-strong travelling Red army into raptures. And that was that. United protected their lead without any real scares and were well worth the three points.
Website man of the match: Rory Fallon. A real team performance and every player in red had a good game. Fallon gets this week’s award for providing the crosses for both goals. A fully committed performance before boarding the first train to London for a family wedding.
Photo courtesy of Mark Lee (full match photos here)
Read more here: http://www.fc-utd.co.uk/m_report.php?match_id=1319