FCUM lose out to Atherton Colleries in scorching season opener

  • FCUM 1-2 Atherton Collieries
  • FC haven't won on opening weekend since Grantham away in 2012
  • 'We looked scared in possession' – Neil Reynolds

Coming off the back of a strong pre-season campaign, hopes were high at Broadhurst Park coming into the season opener against Atherton Collieries. 

The Reds have an opening day hoodoo dating back 11 years, where they haven’t won an opening league game since an away trip to Grantham in 2012. 

FC United started the game looking the stronger of the two sides, and despite Atherton putting a dangerous free kick wide early on, it was the Reds that would take an early lead after just nine minutes. 

The goal was tucked away by Max McCarthy, but all the hard work was done by Michael Donohue, who nicked the ball from inside the away half, rode the challenge of two defenders and played a slick ball right into McCarthy’s path, who nestled it smartly into the back of the net.

The goal would serve to be the catalyst that rushed the Colls into action, as the ball was in the opposition net just four minutes later.

FC were pushed back into their own half and the pressure told as a speculative ball was played over into the far side of the SMRE box.

It fell to the feet of Aaron Smith, who careered the ball across the face of goal off the post, but crucially crossed the line and FC were pegged back.


After this goal FC’s game seemed to break down, with long balls struggling to connect and a lot of uncharacteristic throwing away of possession.

The 25th minutes water break provided a much-needed moment out of the sun for both teams, but it wasn’t long before the temperature of the game rose again.

FC had to step up defence to clear a barrage of long balls into the box before half time, with Jan Palinkas and Lavercombe combining to nullify the Colls long ball threat.

It was five minutes before half time that FC seemed to get into a groove, as Regan Linney began to pick the ball up in favourable areas, but the option to convert the ball into the back of the net just didn’t arrive. 

A double sub at half time for FC saw Guy Halls and Luke Griffiths take to the pitch to try and get FC on the right side of the scoreline.

It took 12 minutes after the break for FC to go behind again and they will doubtless be disappointed with the way they did.

A free kick midway into the FC half was floated into the box, and Rooney (not that one) rose higher than the rest to head the ball into the top corner of the FC net. 

Colls with the lead decided to try to frustrate FC by sitting back, dropping deep and waiting for the Reds to do the running.

This tactic combined with the searing heat pitch side to make the search for the equaliser that much more difficult. FC just couldn’t get that final touch and it means that, in keeping with the ‘tradition’, FCUM have lost the opening game of the season.

After the game, FC Manager Neil Reynolds made no excuses for his team’s display.

He said: “If I look at the side that we poor out today, I look at the spine and it should be enough to win any game of football. For whatever reason, those players didn’t do enough today.

“You expect to be dominating that football game, but we scored early on, we lost trust in the process and we started making our own decisions.

“What is springing out to me now is that the same four or five players have been with me for some years now and they have been in the sides that are continuing to get things wrong, so I have to now look hard at that.

“Maybe there is a culture of acceptance between three or four players, which I can’t stand for. 

“We looked scared in possession. I’ve got to go away and drastically address something that isn’t right there.

“If players want to play in this stadium and be part of this football club, then they have to play how we expect. If they don’t, then all the best.”

Next up for FC is a midweek trip to Derbyshire on tomorrow (Tuesday)  as FC take on Belper Town in a 7.45pm kick off.