FC UNITED of Manchester produced a sterling late comeback to deny Curzon Ashton a first win of the season in a 3-3 draw at Broadhurst Park in the National League North.
The Nash took a 2-0 lead into the half-time interval, through Ryan Brooke and Matt Warburton, and led 3-1 with just five minutes remaining before FC rallied late on.
Luke Ashworth halved the arrears for FC before Warbuton grabbed his second and what appeared to be all three points for the Nash. However, Sam Madeley smashed in before his cross was crashed home by Rory Fallon to ensure a share of the spoils.
The result leaves FC United in 14th place, whilst Curzon Ashton sit once place above the relegation zone.
If Curzon were fatigued after playing half an hour with just 10 men against AFC Fylde on Saturday then they didn’t show it.
John Flanagan’s men went in front on just four minutes. Chris Rowney’s long pass picked out Warburton who cut inside and after some penalty-box pinball the ball was swept beyond Dave Carnell by Brooke.
FC started surprisingly sluggishly and they were lucky not to be two behind a minute later when Warburton saw his rasping 20-yard effort parried by Carnell after a long run forward.
Sean Cooke had FC’s first shot of the game, the midfielder swivelled to fire goalwards after a throw-in but the ball sailed over visiting keeper Hakan Burton’s crossbar.
As the half wore on, the hosts were edging closer to scoring; Craig Lindfield flashed a ball across the penalty area but no player in red was able to touch home.
On 36 minutes, and in truth against the run of play, Curzon doubled their advantage. The ever-lively Warburton flicked in at the near-post after a ball in by Jordan Wright, who had replaced the injured Brooke.
The rest of the half saw FC strive to reduce the arrears but they lacked potency and as a result went into the break 2-0 behind.
Karl Marginson, perhaps an unhappy man at the interval, sent his men out early for the second half but again they started slowly. Joe Guest teed up Gary Burnett for the visitors and his shot looked set to make it 3-0 had it not been deflected beyond the post.
FC did, however, begin to assert their dominance against a Curzon side who seemed happy to protect their lead. Again Lindfield put in an excellent cross from the right touchline but no one was there to provide the finish but there was now an urgency to FC’s play which was missing in the first-half.
Cooke’s dead balls were causing problems for the visitors throughout, he had a free-kick tipped over the bar by Burton on 56 minutes before FC did manage to pull a goal back.
Again from a Cooke free-kick, this time from out wide, the ball was nodded in by Luke Ashworth to halve the deficit with just over half an hour to play.
Karl Marginson made all three of his available changes in an attempt to salvage something from the game but if anything it seemed to stall FC’s fightback.
Curzon were also shrewd in the way they ran the clock down, hesitating over throw-ins and free-kicks, clearly desperate for their first win of the season.
A win they looked set to achieve when, on 84 minutes, Warburton, a real contender for man of the match, smashed in from 20 yards after another lung-bursting run forward.
Some of the 3,830 strong crowd had headed for the exits by the time Madeley, one of Marginson’s substitutes, fired home an unstoppable 30-yard half-volley beyond Burton to again reduce the gap between the sides to just one goal with four minutes left on the clock.
FC were now empowered, kicking towards the home terrace they were throwing everything bar the kitchen sink at the Nash backline.
With one minute remaining Madeley skipped down the left touchline and put a low cross into the penalty area which met Fallon’s run perfectly, allowing the FC number eight to smash home the sixth goal of the game to the delight of the large home support.
FC fans were dreaming of a victory as play entered four added minutes when Cooke lined up another free-kick just outside the penalty area but his shot hit the wall.
Curzon then came inches away from winning with the last attack of an undeniably pulsating game. Niall Cummins laid the ball off for Wright to fire goalwards but his shot took a nick off a flying FC defender and dropped agonisingly wide.
In the end, a point apiece was probably a fair result although it will be FC who will be most pleased having snatched it from the jaws of defeat.
Curzon Ashton are winless in the first seven games of the campaign, although they are one of three sides with just four points to their name at the wrong end of the National League North table.
FC United of Manchester: Carnell, Birch, Brownhill (c), Thurston (Cheetham 60′), Bayunu, Ashworth, Wolfenden (Madeley 66′), Fallon, Greaves, Cooke, Lindfield (Daniels 66′).
Subs not used: Lynch, Murray.
Booked: Fallon, Thurston, Brownhill, Birch.
Goals: Ashworth (57′), Madeley (86′), Fallon (89′)
Curzon Ashton: Burton (c), Rowney, Lakeland (Eckersley 87′), Shaw, Watson, Frost, Brooke (Wright 20′), Guest, Burnett (Cummins 75′), Warburton, Tomsett
Subs not used: Atkinson, Mason.
Goals: Brooke (4′), Warburton (36′, 84′)
Referee: Richard Wild (Norden)
By Jordan Davies at Broadhurst Park