Sunday 24th October
FA Cup 4th Round Qualifying
FC United of Manchester 1 Barrow 0
*Played at Gigg Lane, Bury AFC
Admission: £8 Main Stand (no moving around)
Tea hut purchase: £2.80p for a horrible meat & potato pie
Parking: Side street off Manchester Road, 10 minutes walkI've already mentioned my bad cold on here so I won't go on about it only to say I'd suffered all week and had to cancel yesterdays planned match 'Trafford v Clitheroe'. However, Sunday brought a nice sunny sky and fresh optimism, it also brought one of the best ties of the FA Cup 4th Round Qualifying stage, this is the last round before the Football League sides enter the fray. I wrapped up well, pulled off about a yard of kitchen roll and took my chances in the great outdoors.The Match Shed was pointed in the direction of Bury, Greater Manchester, home of the celebrated Black Pudding and Gigg Lane, football residence for 'The Shakers', Bury AFC. It is also the current home for FC United of Manchester, they rent the place for most of their home games. Perhaps FC United might have been doing a bit of 'shaking' themselves, the opposition today were the FA Trophy holders from the Conference Premier Division, Barrow. Hardened cup fighters whose players and fans have a reputation for playing it hard and fast. A side not to be taken lightly despite some recent poor league form. An added bonus regarding this Sunday afternoon fixture was finding out who the winners would be playing even before they kicked off, as the Match Shed approached the East Lancashire conurbation I got the draw for the FA Cup 1st Round Proper on the radio. Apart from Southport v Sheffield Wednesday, it all seemed rather dull, then up popped the opposition for the winners of FC United v Barrow, it was Rochdale away at the splendid Spotland Stadium.This was a real incentive for todays teams, FC United would have a great local derby and a guaranteed share of a big gate, possibly even TV revenue, whilst Barrow joint manager Dave Bayliss was a Rochdale player and a great 'Dale' fans favourite for many years, he would relish a return to his old stamping ground with his Barrow side. It was all to play for. I got the impression there was going to be a decent crowd for todays game when I passed by the pubs spilling dozens of punters onto the pavement, as I walked up the street to the ground a couple of Manchester taxi's zoomed past with the windows down, they were both full of boozed up chanting Barrow supporters, letting all the passing folk in red, white and black this was not going to be the usual type of encounter for a FC United home game. I counted around half a dozen coach fulls of cup crazy visitors parked near the ground. The approach lane to the turnstiles offers something you dont often see at non league encounters, stalls of traders selling FC United t-shirts, flags, hats, programmes and banners, you could even get a commemorative special t-shirt especially identifying todays 'historic-titled' game.There were plenty of interested customers as well, they mingled amongst the traders whilst camera crews filmed them and interviewed people. Its all done as part of the FC United community project. The club are eagerly saving up as much cash as possible to fund the purchase of their own ground which is planned for Newton Heath, the suburb of Manchester where the original Man United started up. Good luck to them too. There is a real all-in-it-together feel to the FC United profile, something which should be respected, although they do seem to get quite a few knockers from rival supporters. There was a definite buzz to the match build up, this was obviously a really major game for the home side, the chance to play in the 1st Round Proper was having a big effect on the atmosphere.Once inside the stadium I realised I had made a major boo-boo in not remembering this was a football league ground, I was hungry and needed something to eat but what I was faced with was a crappy old Tea Hut sanctioned by Bury Football Club at ridiculous prices. Burgers were well over 3 quid a go, my cheapest option was a Meat and Potato pie at an outrageous £2.80p. It was slid over the counter in its plastic wrapper, it had the name 'Wrights Pies' on it, it was molten hot and looked like cardboard. The wrapper identified its origins as some industrial estate in Crewe, oh dear.Needless to say, 40 minutes later, when it cooled down to non surgical injury status, I found out what I already knew, it was utter crap. Dry paste like potato mush inside stodgy dull pastry, no meat to be found at all, it was horrendous! Frugal Glenn kindly pointed out that he'd bought the very same Wrights Pies down at the market, although they weren't any good he'd been sucked in by a 'four for a pound' offer, thats a nice Tea Hut profit isn't it! I thought about a cup of tea but at £1.80 a tea bag, they could shove it! I'd forgotten how rubbish so called professional sports stadiums can be, having to sit in the same seat in a tired old stand all the game when normally I can move around where I like is a real negative, I know that with big crowds it has to be this way but it doesn't make for a pleasant experience, I wouldn't want to come here again any time soon. Hopefully they can get that Newton Heath project sorted out, I just feel that Gigg Lane is a pretty dull venue.The fact that the non stop singing, chanting and all round FC United support never once relented from start to finish made sure this match had a great feel to it despite the poor surroundings, I have to say the Barrow fans played their part as well, the massive blue and white flags waved behind the away end complimented the massive selection of red, white and black banners placed by the FC United fans all over the empty stand which was opposite the Main Stand. Some fantastic pieces of work which certainly gave an almost European feel to the proceedings. I think they were even letting flares off in the second half? The stakes were sky high and tension was at fever pitch, could FC United make it through to that dream game at Rochdale? Would the strong Barrow side be too classy and powerful to hold back? It was all set up for a ding-dong classic. In reality we got a pretty dull first 45 minutes. I'd say Barrow edged it in that first period, they started very defensive, very careful, very watchful, gradually they pushed forward and had at least 2 clear cut chances to take a lead, they missed them, the one involving Barrow's Nick Chadwick following a badly misplaced back pass from Jimmy Holden was an absolute sitter. FC United held their own but lacked that final touch, however, they did create some openings and Jerome Wright had a good effort which was only inches wide.To be honest I expected Barrow to kick on in the second half and stretch the home side via some experience and creativity, it never happened. It was FC United who started to build up a momentum, more and more tackles were won, more and more ground was taken, more and more width was applied, Barrow were under pressure and starting to look very uncomfortable. The noise and racket from the home fans grew and grew and they all went mad when Carlos Roca stabbed home a 78th minute game-breaking opening goal. Barrow looked dejected and the blank empty stares of the players didn't bring much optimism for a fightback, they were already out of this cup tie irrespective of the 12 minutes left on the clock. The scenes of unabandoned joy at the final whistle witnessed a piece of FC United history, what a great victory for them, I bet there will be thousands of them at Spotland for that big game against Rochdale, what a wonderful match to look forward to. As for Barrow, all they had to look forward to was that long trawl back up the M6 as the sun went down, perhaps the sun was already going down on their season, the poor form in the league and this crushing defeat to lower opposition (in league placings) was worrying enough but it was the manner in which they lost this game which was alarming, a shame for the tremendous numbers who made the trip, they need to sort it out fast.