Report: Baird header stuns Reds whose slump continues

Report: Baird header stuns Reds whose slump continues

Saturday Apr 20, 2019

Alfreton Town 2-3 FC United of Manchester

Alfreton Town slumped to a sixth league game without a win and back to back defeats; as a passionate and driven FC United side struck with 12 minutes to go to edge to a deserved three points at the Impact Arena, to aid their survival ambitions.

Billy Heath made four changes in the blistering heat in what was a beautiful day despite the dry conditions that greeted both sides. Sam Ramsbottom returned in goal and there were also inclusions for Luke Shiels, Reece Styche and Tom Allan.

With a great atmosphere inside the Impact and a real weight of expectation on FC to deliver a performance, it was the Reds who started the better as Styche cut inside from the left wing only to see his shot blocked, Danny Clarke fired the rebound high and wide.

The game soon became scrappy in the hot conditions as both sides traded possession but neither really got in behind the defensive lines within the opening five minutes. Luke Shiels headed towards goal from Jordan Sinnott's free kick but the offside flag went up.

Then with ten minutes gone, FC took a dream lead when a corner towards the far post was powered home by Myers into the roof of the net to stun the home faithful and send the travelling FC fans wild. 

It could have been 2-0 three minutes later when Shiels was penalised for a high foot on Willoughby and the resulting free kick from around 22 yards was curled onto the bar from Myers with Sam Ramsbottom stretching, Chris Sharp would follow the loose ball up but the offside flag was raised to the relief of the Reds.

Alfreton ventured forward and Sinott tested Fisher who made a save to his right in the box before Myers came inches away from connecting with a far post cross which has us stretched again before he forced Sam into a low save in the box.

However with 29 gone, Alfreton levelled the game when a corner from Sinnott was flicked on at the near post and Richard Peniket was on hand to head home from close range.

But the response was huge from the visitors and they re-gained the lead on 36 when Sharp's effort from inside the D was parried by Sam only for Willoughby to react quickest and finish into the empty net. 

The goals continued and we equalised for the second time on 44 minutes, to cap off a pulsating first half. Sinnott again delivered a dangerous corner into the box where Tom Allan peeled off his man at the far post to fire into the top corner. It certainly set the second half up perfectly with the tie firmly in the balance. 

The second period began well for us with Sinnott striking the woodwork with a rasping effort from 20 yards which had Fisher beaten. We earned successive corners thanks to Allan and Peniket but FC stood firm to clear. 

United did catch us out at the other end when Willoughby broke free past Adam Curry only for Sam to save well from close range in the box. Styche fired one wide before we continued the pressure with another corner which Shiels glanced just over the bar. 

The openings kept coming for the Reds who had mostly dominated the second half in terms of pressure and attacking moments, but with 72 minutes gone we had yet to take advantage of these spells. Dec Bacon fed Styche on the left but the striker held the ball for just enough time to allow the FC defenders to recover and block the space in the box, Styche would curl the shot straight at Fisher. 

Sinnott had another chance for us with a free kick from 23 yards which was fizzed over the bar. 

But the big moment came on 78 minutes after a period of momentum for the visitors which had seen the Reds desperately block shots in the box before Sam denied Myers with a fingertip save. From that save on 78, the corner came in towards the far post where Sam Baird was on hand to head home to send the away fans behind the goal and the FC management team, crazy.

The goal was a body-blow for the Reds who hadn't made the most of their openings and spells in the game. FC dug in and showed the passion and desire in terms of the result they needed and they showed it in the last ten minutes, fighting for every loose ball and denying the Reds any clear openings as we chased the game late on.

It was another damaging defeat at home for Alfreton whose home form has been a frustrating and poor aspect of the season and defeat to relegation threatened FC United will dent the confidence at the Impact, further. Never the less the visitors deserved the points and their belief in their survival showed. 

As the season fizzles out with the Reds already safe from the drop, just two league games remain as we look to at least end the season positively. We next travel to the Bucks on Easter Monday in a quick turn around, kick off at the New Bucks Head in our final away game of the season is 3pm.

 

ATFCXI: Ramsbottom, Clifton, Platt, Clarke (Bacon 55), Shiels (c), Curry, Styche, Hotte, Peniket, Sinnott, Allan (O'Brien 83).

Subs Not Used: Nicholson, Hinchley, Brough.

Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis

Attendance: 733 

 
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