By George Bishop-Green
Radcliffe knocked out of the Manchester Premier Cup following an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to FC United of Manchester. Four second half goals split evenly between the two sides sent the game to penalties. In the penalty shoot-out misses from Scott Metcalfe and Matthew Crothers put the tie to bed.
In a tense first half both sides found chances few and far between. Tyrees Sinclair went close early on following good work in the box by captain Harry Winter. He played Sinclair in down the left hand side but Sinclair saw his shot flash across goal. FC United of Manchester carved out there first opening from a PaulEnnis free kick out to the left, his free kick was met with a strong header that Ollie Martin did well to save.
Towards the end of the half both teams had a chance to go in with the lead. First Jordan Buckley latched on to a mistake by Rick Smith, however his shot was straight at Martin. Then the home team worked the ball out to Liam Ellis on the right hand side, his cross was then met by Matthew Wolfenden who saw his shot well saved by former Bury man Cameron Belford.
Moving into the second half opposition manager Neil Reynolds team talk seemed to do the trick, as the Reds found the breakthrough in the 52nd minute. Paul Ennis broke forward on the counter attack and caught Radcliffe napping. He slid a through-ball that beat the offside trap to Nialle Rodney. Rodney then ran at the onrushing Martin and coolly finished to give his side the lead.
The home team looked to respond to the Rebels goal and created a couple of openings. Rick Smith played second half substitute Matthew Crothers in down the left hand side, he then drifted into the box but saw his shot fly agonizingly wide. Tom Williams was then played in down the right channel and found a great cross for Crothers again, but he saw his volley sail over the bar.
Boro eventually found an equalizer in the 68th minute. Scott Metcalfe played a ball over the top to Crothers, Crothers then sent a low cross into the box for Ellis. He then took a touch and calmly finished past Belford to make it 1-1.
Almost as soon as the home team had finished celebrating FC United of Manchester found themselves back infront. Jordan Buckley won a free kick on the edge of the area. Alex Curran then saw his curling effort come back off the post, before Donohue was first to react in the box to guide the rebound into the goal to give his side the lead.
Despite being pegged back in the game again, Radcliffe looked to take the game to the visitors. Following a clever free kick routine, the ball found its way to Matt Hughes but he blasted his effort well over. Hughes had another chance shortly after, he met a delightful cross from Metcalfe but saw his header fly over.
Radcliffe wouldn’t have to wait long for there second equalizer of the game as this fell to defender Rick Smith in the 82nd minute. Second half substitute Ben Wharton saw his goalbound effort deflected for a corner. From the resulting corner Crothers put the ball into the box and Smith powered a header past Belford to make the score 2-2.
The home team almost snatched the win late on. Sinclair was played in down the left hand side. He then checked inside and looked to curl a shot into the bottom left corner. Belford saved the shot well down to his left and the ball fell to Ellis in the 6 yard box. Ellis blazed his shot over, a goal at this point would surely have killed the tie.
As this was a Manchester Premier Cup tie the game went straight to penalties. The reds dispatched all of there penalties on the night. Boros missed penalties came from first, Metcalfe, who smashed his penalty over the bar. Then Crothers, with the all but deciding 4th penalty, saw his effort saved by Belford down to his left.
A disappointing end to a game that really caught alight in the second half. Boro will look back and think on another day this would have been a game they would of won. The team will take some comfort in the amount of clear cut chances they created and will look to build on last weeks strong showing against Hyde United when they face Nantwich Town on Saturday.