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First Team - Match centre

Stamford
FC United of Manchester
Sat 19 Apr 15:00 - The Evo-Stik League Northern Premier - Premier Division Full time Attendance 1,204

Stamford make FC United battle all the way

Stamford's defiant second half resistance was finally broken with little more than six minutes to go when quality striker Michael Norton

swept home his second, and the eventual winner, to ensure that FC led for the first time.

Their travelling fans, a raucous presence all afternoon in a crowd of over 1,200, went into orbit - even more so when news came through that Chorley had managed only a 1-1 draw at Whitby, meaning that FC are now just a point behind them in their quest for the automatic promotion spot.

Notwithstanding, the result was tough on a Daniels' side who had given their all with Richard Jones, Paul Malone and Jon Challinor outstanding.

Indeed, there was never any likelihood of a repeat of that meek 6-0 defeat up at Bury back in early autumn. From the moment Ryan Robbins cut inside to curl home a beauty after just three minutes, they either held their own or rode their luck, in equal quantity, for much of the game.

There were other chances too as FC struggled early on against a stiff breeze. Lewis Carr very nearly put Robbins through and Challinor was just too high with a free kick.

As the visitors came more into the game, Matthew Wolfenden tested Will Jones with a dropping through ball - but once again it was Stamford who might have added to their lead when Richard Jones was unlucky not to control a long Challinor pass.

FC were slowly making their presence felt, however, Astley Mulholland fired across a dangerous ball which evaded everyone. Wolfenden, down for some time after being struck in the face, remained a busy presence whenever the visitors went forward and he was unlucky not to find Norton with one telling pass, expertly intercepted by Emeka Nwadike.

An equaliser had threatened for some time before it finally arrived on 36 minutes. Liam Brownhill fired in a free kick from the left hand side and Norton glanced a tremendous header in high off the far post.

But Stamford weren't to give up easily and they shocked their visitors by retaking the lead on 44 minutes. Malone nodded on a through ball inside the box and there was Nabil Shariff to lift his shot into the roof of the net.

That galvanised FC for a second half onslaught, manager Karl Marginson making all three of his substitutions at the interval. It obviously worked, the visitors level within two minutes of the restart.

Wolvenden's dubiously awarded free kick took the slightest of touches off Malone - but sufficient to divert the ball inside the near post.

Manchester dominated after that with Thomas Greaves flicking over and the same player forcing an outstanding save from Will Jones. The keeper was heckled by FC fans throughout that second half - but even they found it in them to applaud that stop!

Then Norton, who showed pace, control and vision all afternoon, forced Will into another excellent stop before Challinor went on a tantalising run at the other end to fire over. Jordan Smith also ballooned an effort high and wide - and there was always a suspicion that the Daniels too might nick a winner.

And even after Norton stole in to snatch the all-important third, Stamford had FC fans screaming in anguish for the final whistle as they twice got themselves into dangerous positions.

But it wasn't to be. The visitors deserved their win although Stamford pushed them all the way and showed how much progress has been made by David Staff and his squad since that last meeting.

Attendance: 1,204

Stamford: Will Jones, Lewis Carr, Jon Challinor, Paul Malone, Richard Jones, Emeka Nwadike, Shawn Richards, Charlie Binns (Ashley Robinson), Jordan Smith, Nabil Shariff (Alvin Jarvis), Ryan Robbins (Daniel Lawlor). Subs not used: David Staff, Aaron Keir.

FC United: David Carnell, Liam Brownhill, Lee Neville (Callum Byrne), Dean Stott (Joseph Fox), Tom Davies, Charlie Raglan, Matthew Wolfenden, David Birch, Michael Norton, Astley Mulholland (Lewis Lacy). Sub not used: Greg Daniels.

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Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
16. Witton Albion 46 60
17. Ilkeston FC 46 59
18. Stamford 46 58
19. Nantwich Town 46 56
20. Marine 46 53
21. Frickley Athletic 46 49
22. Stafford Rangers 46 35

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