It was a happy New Year for the Shaymen in the winter of 2011 as they easily disposed a spirited FC United of Manchester side in a 4-1 victory at the Shay.
United began brightly and were unlucky not to take the lead when Jerome Wright crossed for Mike Norton, though his effort would drift just wide.
In truth, neither side could get going in the first-half, with the only other chance in the opening thirty minutes coming from a Richard Battersby long-range effort which was easily tipped away for a corner by Johnathan Hedge in the town net.
Still the game would burst into life in the 30th minute as United were awarded a penalty when Hedge took down Matthew Wolfenden following neat play by the Mancunians. Jerome Wright duly stepped up and placed the spot-kick just left of the keeper to give United a 1-0 lead.
Town were clearly frazzled against opponents which had recently knocked league side Rochdale out of the FA Cup – as well as taking Brighton to a replay. Yet the Shaymen would be level ten minutes later courtesy of Jamie Vardy. FC United failed to clear the ball from a Shaymen corner and Vardy would find the space in the box to tuck home the one Town chance in the first-half and bring the sides level at the break.
The second-half would be a different story; Town took the lead just nine minutes into the half, thanks to a Lee Gregory strike on his second debut at the Shay. The goal came from a long-ball forward that found its way to right and Phelan’s cross would be converted by the clubs now record holder for most goals.
Still United would look to bounce back, and it was that man Wright who came closest in the minutes after as he looked to beat Hedge at his near post.
United, with one of the worst attacks in the league, were facing an all too familiar scenario. Ben Deegan, James Holden and Wright coMBined in a free-flowing counter in the 75th minute, but Wright’s eventual strike was saved comfortably by Hedge.
With the score 2-1 United continue to push in the final minutes and would be punished on the counter. Richard Marshall converting a third for the Shaymen after a few missed opportunities.
And with the game being wrapped up in a front of a bumper crowd of 4023 (a record at the time for the NPL) the Shaymen could put an exclamation point on a well-earned victory. Taylor, who had barely touched the ball since coming off the bench in stoppage time, scored a delightful chip over Ashton in the United goal to make it 4-1.
The score line may have been slightly harsh on a Manchester side which had battled bravely, but the New Year’s outing would be one to remember for the Shaymen as they would eventually secure promotion to the National League North as champions at the end of the year.
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