CITY CHURCH MANCHESTER 3–2 KSB UNITED – friendly – 26th August 2017 – Hough End, Manchester

The fourth meeting between the sides in just over a year promised to be an exciting way to end the pre–season schedule. KSB United were unbeaten this summer and faced a strong City Church Manchester side that had narrowly missed out on promotion. United’s results improved over them throughout the season and so hopes were high for this one.

Brett Aspden took a strong squad to the Hough End, but with Tom Connor and Phil Butterworth pulling out late he was down to the bare bones. Thankfully Math Pickup turned up at the last minute as a substitute. The 4–3–3 formation was chosen as a last roll of the dice before the league campaign begins in 2 weeks.

Matt Gosnell made his second start in goal of the summer, in front of a defence consisting of Aspden, Ste Evans on his return from injury, Tom Pickup and Johnny English. A midfield trio of Sam Lord, Matthew Painter and Dave Davies sat behind Jonathan Rigby, John Kell and Joel Brown up front.

The Streeters couldn’t have hoped for a better start and were 2–0 up inside 15 minutes. First up was Brown, who found space outside the area to turn and loop the ball up and over the defence and goalkeeper – it was almost a shock to see the ball ripple the back of the net. Next up was Aspden, who deftly headed in Painter’s pinpoint free–kick.

Yet in and amongst the goals, City Church had looked dangerous. Their mix of strength and pace was causing problems for the United defence and soon they had pulled a goal back. A corner was swung in and a shot was well blocked by Aspden. However, the rebound was gobbled up into the roof of the net.

Not long after and the home side had already found an equaliser. A forward was given time and space to turn in the box and fire a shot past Gosnell. The dominance continued and it looked likely that the turnaround would come sooner rather than later.

Gosnell made a few smart stops before Tom Pickup cleared off the line and Johnny English jumped in to divert the ball over the bar from what looked a certain goal. Harry Connor replaced Pickup on the half hour, and the pressure began to subside. Rigby and Brown were creating space well on the flanks but chances were few and far between for United.

Math replaced Lord at half time, but soon after the restart the third City goal arrived. Aspden couldn’t quite tackle former manager Dan Maung, who waltzed past several more players before setting up the striker to smash past Gosnell.

Tom came back on for English at right back, and Aspden shifted things to a 4–4–2, with Lord coming on up front. The game was more even at this stage, but the only real chance of note was a great move ending with Brown volleying over the bar.

As United attempted to force their way back into the game they started leaving huge holes in defence. Several chances for a fourth goal were missed on the counter attack. Gosnell made several important saves and one effort hit the post. A slew of mini–injuries forced continual swaps and the hot weather was certainly tiring on the players.

United could have no complaints with the result and might have conceded more, but this was a spirited effort against a classy–looking side with real promotion aspirations themselves. This was also a great test of fitness as the competitive season lies just ahead.


Team (4–3–3)

1. Matt Gosnell (GK)

2. Johnny English (DR)

5. Ste Evans (DC)

6. Brett Aspden (DC)

12. Tom Pickup (DL)

4. Sam Lord (MC)

8. Matthew Painter (MC)

11. Dave Davies (MC)

9. Joel Brown (FR)

14. John Kell (SC)

7. Jonathan Rigby (FL)


Subs – 3. Harry Connor (DL), 16. Math Pickup (MC)

Man of the match – Harry Connor