Sunday, 27 November 2011

FC United of Manchester 2 v Altrincham 1 - FA Trophy

Sunday 27th November 2011, at Gigg Lane, Bury FC
FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
FC United of Manchester (1) 2
Carlos Roca 45+, Mike Norton 78
Altrincham (0) 1
Jack Redshaw 52
Admission £8, Programme £2, Attendance 1,945
FC United of Manchester:
For line up see chalk board below.
1) Stuart Coburn 2) Mark Lees 3) Ryan Brown 4) Anthony Danylyk 5) Rob Williams 6) Adam Flynn 7) Simon Richman 8) Shaun Densmore 9) Jack Redshaw 10) Damien Reeves 11) Nicky Clee
Subs - 12) Joe Coombs 14) Michael Twiss 15) James Lawrie 16) Duncan Watmore 18) Adam Reid (GK)
These two sides have only ever met each other in a couple of friendly matches prior to this afternoon.
A couple of firsts today then.
The inaugural 'Manchester derby' between these two sides and the only time FCUM have made it through to the 1st Round proper of the FA Trophy, by virtue of them winning this tie.
'Alty', having escaped relegation from the Conference by the skin of their teeth a couple of times, play in the Blue Square North these days, while FC United of Manchester/Moston are pushing for a play off spot in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.

A view from the Manchester Road End

From the outset, it looked as though Altrincham would rise to the occasion and their 'higher calibre' of players would knock the ball around their hosts and cut them open at the back.
But their lively start fizzled out fairly soon.
A couple of early 'Alty' advances towards the Manchester Road end came to nothing ... and having weathered some early pressure, it was the home side who started to pick up some momentum.
Greg Stones was putting up a stubborn and determined rearguard action keeping the visitors attack in check, whilst Carlos Roca, an ex Altrincham player, was causing his former side all kinds of trouble down the left flank and Mick Norton was keeping the Robins goalkeeper Stuart Coburn on his toes.
It looked however, as if the first half was going to remain goalless, which reflected the actual amount of clear cut chances either side had actually created to be fair.
But Carlos Roca had other ideas.
Two minutes into stoppage time he unleashed an unstoppable shot from 25 yards out and Coburn was beaten all ends up.
Roca seems to score a spectacular goal every time I see him play, the most recent being against Frickley Athletic at Westfield Lane just over a month ago.
At half time we bumped into some FCUM fans we knew who were on their way to the bar, they invited us to join them, but once more I was the designated driver so I had to decline.
A shame really, because the last session I'd had with them was the stuff of legend by all accounts, not that any of those of us who participated can confirm that or even remember very much about the events of the day/night.
Thankfully, the 'future Mrs Waite' got me home in her car that night (by all accounts), cheers Linz, I owe you one ;-)
Altrincham won a right wing corner on 52 minutes, Nicky Clee floated it over and through a crowd of bodies Jack Redshaw got his head to it and equalised in front of the visiting supporters in the Cemetery Road End of the ground.
It was game on now and for a while the Blue Square North side looked like they were bucking their ideas up and were going to take the initiative, but FC United had other ideas and kept pushing the visitors back as they looked for another goal themselves.
On 65minutes it looked as though Kyle Jacobs had put the home side back in front, but there was a lot of back spin on his shot from ten yards out and it rattled back off the post.
With hindsigh,t he should've just belted the ball instead of trying to place it.
We were in the Manchester Road End to see what the atmosphere in there was like first hand and after Jacobs hit the post, the noise level rose.
Virtually everybody in the 'MRE' stands for the duration of the game and the section in the middle sing throughout, but now their team needed an extra lift to raise their game, the whole end of the ground joined in and there was also a lot of noise coming from the main stand.
On 78 minutes Roca sent Astley Mullholland (another ex Altrincham player) away on the right, his pin point cross was met by Micky Norton who powered home a header from the edge of the six yard box.I was walking across the front of the stand when Norton scored, my good lady had already put my camera in her bag, but I did get a blurred approximation of the goal being scored on my cheap and nasty mobile phone camera (above).
'Alty' struggled to get back into the game now, though it was a nail biting last few minutes for the home fans ... and after 4 minutes of stoppage time FCUM were through to the first round proper.
I was parked right on the road outside the ground and we were soon away, the home fans were still in the ground celebrating and we could hear the visitors singing 'You're not fit to wear the shirt' at their team.
A passing Altrincham fan was moaning to the young lad with him, about how Alty used to be the biggest Non League club in the area, but today's result marked a significant moment and it looks as if the balance of power was shifting.
A bit melodramatic maybe, but food for thought never the less.
My sidekick was asking loads of questions about FC United on the way home, but I don't have the answers or scope of insider knowledge to answer any of them.
I was just a complete neutral here to watch a cup tie ... and to that end I enjoyed my afternoon out.
To outsiders, there are more questions than answers to quite a lot of the issues surrounding this unique, one off club, but I'm only interested in the football, not politics ... and in Carlos Roca they have one of the best exponents of that noble art in the whole of the Non League game.
Altrincham must be kicking themselves for letting him go, but on today's showing they wouldn't hurt themselves, they'd probably miss!