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Sunday, July 19, 2009

AFC Flyde 1 MUFC 2 Match Report

Thanks to Red News forumite Thornton Red for this match report

Billed as The Champions v The Champions, AFC having won the Vodkat Premier Division title last season, anticipation in the area for the visit of Manchester United, whoever wore the shirts, had been high for weeks and the club even managed to arrange for a marquee to be set up outside the local pub, The Birley Arms, to provide hospitality for 120 guests.

Rain had poured down during the previous night and all day on the Fylde Coast. So much so that as kick-off time approached there was a serious doubt as to whether the game would still go ahead. However, with the club having invested in the laying of a new pitch and drainage system in the close season at an outlay approaching £30,000 the game went ahead in front of a record crowd at Kellamergh Park of 1,390.

AFC fielded one player who used to be on United’s books in Michael Barnes and another, Matt Walwyn, who is the son of Keith Walwyn formerly of Blackpool.

The game was well contested with both teams giving their all in diabolical conditions, United hitting the post early on. AFC were as inspired as you might expect playing a United XI but after the first ten minutes the class of United youth, who, by the way, wore the new kit for the first time, became evident as their opponents struggled to gain possession of the ball.

In those first ten minutes Tom Heaton was as busy as he was going to get in the match, making the first of only five touches he would get of the ball during the first 45 minutes, as AFC built a lovely move only for Pete Sommerfield’s shot to miss the target. Heaton’s first touch therefore was picking the ball up for a goalkick! Five minutes later there was some strong defending required from United’s back line to keep AFC at bay as their early confidence soared.

On 25 minutes United were forced into making their first substitution of the night as James Chester limped off after being on the wrong end of a strong challenge. He was replaced by Oliver Gill who made an immediate impact with a well timed interception to put paid to another early attack from AFC.

Two minutes later United produced a lovely sweeping move which ended with Febien Brandy shooting just over the bar from outside the penalty area. On 39 minutes though, United took the lead. Moving out of defence, Corry Evans played the ball out to Magnus Eikram on the right wing, he moved the ball onto Cameron Stewart who made a typical fast paced and mazy run down the right flank evading all challenges sweetly before playing a nice one-two with Brandy then putting in a superbly accurate cross which Tom Cleverley smartly tucked away from ten yards out.

During the first half AFC’s tannoy announcer had been making regular pronouncements from the police that cars parked on the surrounding roads were, a) going to be issued with parking tickets and, b) some of the worst offenders were going to be removed by the police. During the half time interval he announced the winner of three prize tickets; 1st prize a signed United shirt. 2nd prize a signed AFC shirt. 3rd prize was to be payment of all parking fines!

The second half began with United making two more changes to the starting line up; Oliver Norwood came on for Evans and Ron Robert Zieler replaced Heaton in goal. Zieler must have already been shattered as United’s goalkeeping coach had put him through an exhausting exercise routine before the game and again at half time.

Fifteen minutes into the second half Zieler was called upon to make his first contribution to the night when making a fine save at the feet of an AFC Fylde substitute, Paul Fildes. Two minutes later Stewart was replaced by Josh King and then, after 75 minutes another sweeping United move resulted in a corner.

Ollie Norwood had played a long ball over the defence for Brandy and his ball into the area for Ajose resulted in the striker getting in a shot on the turn that was unknowingly deflected off the post for a corner by an AFC defender. Cleverley took the corner and the resultant goal was somewhat reminiscent of Paul Scholes as the ball reached the feet of Sam Hewson who drove a bullet like shot, first time, high into the AFC goal.

Three minutes later Hewson again made the keeper work well as he had to make a fantastic save to keep out another shot from the United midfielder.

With about ten minutes to go the game was rudely interrupted when a streaker ran onto the pitch and bared his nether regions. He was politely asked to leave the scene by the tannoy guy and as he realised that security were now on the pitch and closing in he made a break for freedom. Running Ed Moses like towards the advertising hoardings surrounding the pitch he attempted to hurdle them but as the ground now resembled a cows field he couldn’t make it and smashed into them chest high.

He did manage to regain his feet and escape his would be captors and, in pouring rain and a very cold wind, he then ran around the pitch in just his boxers as a Keystone Cops type chase took place. He was caught eventually and marched out of the ground in want looked to be a very strong hold by two guards. One wonders if he will now be banned from every ground in the country for his bravado.

Back to the football then and in the 82nd minute AFC finally got what the majority of the crowd had really come for – a goal, as Michael Clark scored a consolation goal direct from a corner with the assistance of the afore-mentioned wind which completely deceived Zieler.

This gave the home side some extra impetus and as they threw everything at United looking for an unlikely equaliser it only required a superb last ditch tackle by Joe Dudgeon on Fildes to keep them out in the final frenetic moments.

Interviewed afterwards Ole Gunner Solskjaer said: “Fylde gave us a good game. We worked hard throughout and towards the end l have to say l wasn’t so sure that we were going to win the game or not. “Fylde had some decent players and they worked hard, but it was our first game and l was just glad we won in the end.”

Of all the players Ole Gunner chose to play though special mention has to be made or Ritchie De Laet who didn’t put a foot wrong all night. He read the game well and made many important challenges breaking up some good attacks from the reds opponents. Craig Cathcart’s presence on the pitch also impressed the locals. Strong, athletic and composed both on and off the ball he had a big impact on the game too and dwarfed AFC’s strikers.

Finally, on a personal level, it was good to see Sam Hewson back in a United shirt. He scored one great goal and could have had another and one can only hope that his loan spell at Hereford wasn’t wasted and he makes the most of another opportunity with the reds.

AFC Fylde: Summerfield, Lawlor, Shaw, Doughty, Hennessy, Horsfall, Penswick, Palmer, Barnes, Walwyn, Downey. Subs: Worrell, Jackson, Moffatt, Mahoney, Porter, Nay, Fildes, Clark, Railston, Allen.


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