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FC United of Manchester's FA Trophy replay with Witton Albion is abandoned after 75 minutes
THEY tried, they really did.
But FC United of Manchester against Witton Albion, for now at least, is a saga. And a soggy one too.
While the teams toil to beat one another – they were locked at 2-2 again when this contest was cut short – the weather continues to emerge as a winner, convincingly so.
This tie has already racked up two postponements and an abandonment.
Don’t forget either the deluge that did for the clubs’ league meeting last Christmas.
Frustratingly, the football between downpours is really rather good.
Witton twice led thanks to Neville Thompson’s smartly-taken double, only for the Rebels to rally with replies of their own.
Karl Marginson’s men were, if only marginally, better in the moments before a monsoon – bringing with it thunder and lightning – gave referee Gareth Mellor reason enough to run for cover.
The players, sodden and struggling to stay upright, scuttled after him.
There was still a quarter hour on the clock and, such was the closeness of the encounter, a likely period of extra time to follow.
With puddles, not many mind, forming on the playing surface it should have surprised few when the West Riding official shook hands with Marginson and Albion boss Brian Pritchard to signal home time shortly afterwards.
Monday’s third qualifying round draw will be messier for it.
Witton’s start was swifter, with Kyle Wilson and Thompson willing runners into space between defender and full back.
Seldom did their attacks, though frequent, end with an attempt at goal.
At the other end, Matthew Walwyn forced Matt Cooper to save low to his left after cutting inside from the touchline.
Albion scored on 19 minutes, Thompson prodding in the ball from close range after Ben Harrison – who had trotted back onto the pitch after lengthy treatment for an injury – nodded down Josh Hancock’s deep corner.
FC United restored parity after half an hour, Liam Brownhill’s arced free kick from the left appearing to evade everybody before sneaking into the net.
Tom Davies claimed to have helped it there, albeit unconvincingly.
The visitors were more purposeful at the start of the second period too, Thompson swerving in a shot from the edge of the penalty area after swatting aside Amjad Iqbal’s feeble bid to block him.
Witton retreated after that, in part because they were forced to.
Michael Norton swept in a second equaliser for his side on the hour, reacting sharply after Michael Powell’s brilliantly-timed tackle had denied Matthew Wolfenden in shooting stride.
Ball diverted his way, Norton steered it beyond Cooper’s reach.
A fortnight since they first met, and following more than two and a half hours during which they have divided eight goals between them, FC United still cannot be separated from Witton.
FC United (4-2-3-1) Worsnop (GK), Brownhill, Iqbal (Birch 67), Davies, Neville, Stott, Daniels, Wolfenden, Byrne, Walwyn (Mulholland 55), Norton Subs not used Pearson, Rodriguez, Greaves Goals Brownhill 29, Norton 59 Booked Neville, Davies (both fouls)
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Brown, Powell, Harrison, Joseph (Moyo 73), Andrews, Sheehan, Breeze, Hancock, Wilson, Thompson Subs not used Plant (GK), Dawson, Purcell, Moseley Goals Thompson 19, 49
Referee Gareth Mellor (Leeds)
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