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Leigh RMI 0 FC United of Manchester 0

By Matt Lawton
July 16 2005

An eventful afternoon at Hilton Park eventually saw RMI and FC United of Manchester play out a 0-0 draw in front of a bumper pre-season crowd that will provide welcome financial relief to both clubs. Despite the lack of goals, both sides had plenty of chances and could both feel that they should've won the game, played against a backdrop of an excellent atmosphere from both sets of fans, with the visitors in high spirits at the novelty factor of pay on the gate terracing and being able to change ends at half-time. They've got a lot to learn ahead of their debut season!

In a match packed with incident on and off the field, FC United made the better start to the game, belittling the divisional difference between the sides by putting early pressure on the RMI goal that saw them go close on several occasions.

The visitors dominated much of the first half, with only the rare attack from RMI, although Chris Simm may feel a little aggrieved with himself after a missing a couple of gilt-edged opportunities in the first half.

The first half was marred by a serious injury to United captain Billy McCartney, who left the field with a suspected dislocated shoulder, meaning an almost Fergie-esque 8 minute period of added time at the first half, though neither side could take advantage in front of goal of the extra time.

The pace and tenacity in the game stepped up a notch in the second half, preceeded by the first of three 'streakers', clearly the worse for wear after an afternoon's drinking, entering the field of play from the massed ranks of FCUM fans at the Railway End.

As the loyal band of Leythers upped the volume a notch, as is usually the case whenever RMI are attacking the Chadwick Street End, Leigh should've grabbed the lead following a sustained period of pressure on the United goal that saw to attempts cleared off the line in quick succession, while the United goalkeeper made a string of impressive saves throughout the game to keep RMI at bay.

Although the match was slightly marred by a small section of FC United fans throwing water bottles on to the field during the game, not to mention a large-scale pitch invasion at the end of the game, the game and the crowd that it attracted will be of great financial benefit to both clubs in the harsh world of non-league football.

The impression that I got when speaking to several FCUM fans prior to the game is that although 'big United' will always hold a place in their heart, their priorities now lie in the North West Counties League, and it can only help boost the profile of non-league football as a whole.

On reflection, RMI are still without the killer touch in front of goal that was so evidently lacking throughout the course of last season following the departure of David McNiven to Queen of the South a year ago, while if Utd continue to play at such a good standard at so much pace, not to mention if they continue to attract the size of the support that visited Hilton Park, then in no uncertain times they are going to breeze through their North West Counties Division Two campaign this coming season.

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