Accrington 0 United 3
United ended 2012/13 as they began, with a deserved away win. The U's triumphed at Accrington, a ground where they have never lost, as goals in quick succession from James Constable and Deane Smalley and a last minute strike from Sean Rigg gave them a 3-0 win in the final game of a long hard season.
It may have been a largely meaningless game in terms of the table but it started at a million miles an hour, Rigg blasting in an early shot which was blocked on the edge of the area and Alfie Potter looking dangerous on the right of a 4-4-2 shape. An attempted chip from Potter on 16 wasn’t hit quite hard enough but highlighted the danger for an Accrington side who were pushed back in the first 20 minutes.
They might have scored with their first true effort at goal on 21 as Padraig Amond stabbed at goal from close range and drew a good save from Max Crocombe but United then roared to the other end and Smalley’s hard running and a cross from Sean Rigg set up Potter for another effort which went wide of the mark.
The best move and chance of the half came on 41 minutes as Liam Davis made a fine tackle on half way to feed Rigg. He burst inside his man and unleashed a stinging shot from inside the area but home keeper Paul Rachubka was equal to it, pushing the shot away with a flying save to his left.
It was the keeper’s last action before he was replaced by Andrew Dawber for the second half with United replacing the limping Damian Batt with Simon Heslop four minutes into the second half. The first shot of the second half saw Stanley’s Lee Molyneux’s 25 yard effort deflected wide by a typically brave block from the excellent Michael Raynes, once again forming an imposing back line with Michael Duberry. Whether it is Duberry's last game or not remains to be seen but he loved the occasion, defending as strongly as ever and finding time to laugh and joke with the fans as well.
There was one moment of controversy on 57 when Constable ran past Dawber and seemed to be baulked by the replacement keeper. It looked a foul but ref Scott Duncan saw nothing wrong and instead booked Constable, once he had got back to his feet, for his protests. The striker was quickly to have the last laugh as he helped his side win the game with two goals in three minutes.
First on 64 it was Constable applying the finishing touch as Whing won the ball for the umpteenth time for Potter to work the ball on to Constable. He barged past a defender then finished in his customary style with a low drive past the despairing dive of Dawber.
Two minutes later Constable was pushed over by Peter Murphy and ref Duncan this time ruled in favour of the Yellows. Smalley was perfectly calm as he rolled the penalty past Dawber to make it 2-0 and ensure that United would end the season with three wins in a row.
Accrington let their frustration show when Molyneux was sent off but that didn't affect too much and on 90 United made it three as Marsh raced clear and very unselfishly rolled the ball across for Rigg to tap home a simple last goal of the season.
It has been a season of ups and downs for the U's with some excellent performances and runs of results interrupted by runs where they have let their standards slip. However the last three games have shown real character and the introduction of youngsters like Crocombe -keeping his third clean sheet in a row - Ty Marsh, who looked lively as a sub, and Sam Long ,who was handed a late debut, promise much for the future. Bigger battles lie ahead but this was a good way to end the season and United fans can spend the summer with the football fan's favourite dream: next year will be our year...
Report by Chris Williams, photos by Darrell Fisher, stats by PA Sports
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