Both sides battled valiantly for a victory at the Giant Axe, but the spoils were shared as City drew with FC United of Manchester 0-0.
City came out physically against United, putting in some crunching challenges in the opening encounters. Cowperthwaite was booked inside the opening 10 minutes of the first half, making his presence known in the middle of the park early on.
City were the side to have the fist chance of the game, with Norris gaining possession in the United half and shooting wide of the target. A few more free kicks followed as more challenges started to appear from both sides, but chances were hard to come by after the first 22 minutes. Blinkhorn and Walker were both caught offside in attempts to get in on goal.
On the halfway point of the first 45 United came close to opening the scoring, with Tom Dean heading narrowly wide of the target. From this point on, United began to grow into the game. On the half-hour mark, Charlie Ennis had a shot on goal, but it was comfortable in the end for Ashton.
Chances came and went for United for the rest of the first half, with forward Tunde Olowabi struggling to make an impact for the away side thanks to City’s back four keeping him quiet.
Two minutes before half time and City had another chance. Walker was dinked into the box and did brilliantly to hold off his man. He found space for the shot but unfortunately hit it wide of the target.
By half time both sides had put a shift in to try and find an opener. United had more chances to take the lead, but the teams went in evenly matched.
The second half began positively for City, after Norris was slipped in on goal by Jack Armer. United ‘keeper Wharton saved the shot and Norris was flagged offside, but it was a bright start from the home side.
Olowabi scored two goals in United’s previous fixture but was unable to get past a solid City backline who had him well under control.
Dawson was the next City player to receive a yellow card after chasing down Wharton to the ball. He narrowly missed the ball and caught Wharton in the process.
Both sides made their first changes in the 55th minute. For United, Paul Ennis was replaced by Regan Linney, whilst Rob Wilson came on for Niall Cowperthwaite, who put in a great shift in the middle of the park throughout the first half.
A couple of minutes later and United got away with a dangerous challenge in their box. Full back Aaron Morris went hard into the back of Walker and looked to be a foul, but the referee waved away the appeals and let play continue.
By the hour mark City were creating a lot more chances for themselves. This time Walker took a quick throw in into the path of Blinkhorn, who took the ball just too wide to get a good shot off and ended up firing wide.
A few minutes later and out of nowhere United came close to taking the lead. Morris found space on the right side of the box after a cross, and Armer heroically threw himself in front of the shot that was heading for the net.
Two minutes later and City came back on the front foot. Thompson made a crucial challenge to prevent United from running in on goal, he made a superb long-range pass to Walker who cut in on his right foot and curled a divine effort just wide of the far corner.
On the 68th minute Dawson was subbed off for Sam Joel as City looked to push for a winner. Four minutes later Brad Carsley was also brought on for Blinkhorn to add more fire power to City’s strike force.
On the 78th minute United brought off Olowabi, who had a very difficult night thanks to City’s backline keeping him in their back pocket. He was replaced by Chris Sharp. Both teams were looking to get that winning goal.
The best chance of the game came to City with 10 minutes to go. Wilson put the ball into the box after his corner was cleared, Armer had a free header but couldn’t find the target from close range. So close for City, who were much better up top in the second half.
Things got ugly after Armer was fouled near the by-line. The challenge resulted in a heated affair which led to Luke Griffiths being sent off for the away side. United were now down to 10 men with eight minutes to go.
With four minutes to go City gave away a dangerous free kick for United to take advantage of. Linney stepped up and took the shot, but Ashton matched it and saved it well.
Five minutes were added on, but no chances materialised in added time. Skipper Simon Wills was forced to play the rest of the game with an injury after City had used all their substitutions.
The game ended all square. Both sides had chances to win the game, but neither could take them. United edged ahead of City in terms of creating chances in the first half, but City responded very well in the second and caused the United defence problems.