Two dubious red card decisions paved the way for FC United of Manchester to comprehensively defeat Bradford Park Avenue at Broadhurst Park.
Mark Bower shuffled the pack once again, making three changes to the side that were held by Alfreton Town a fortnight ago. Nicky Clee dropped out of the squad altogether, whilst Gianluca Havern and Danny Boshell settled for a place on the bench. Shane Killock replaced Havern in the heart of defence, Jamie Spencer returned to the midfield and Wayne Brooksby regained his spot on the right flank after overcoming his injury troubles.
The first-half certainly lived up to the pre-match expectations, as the boisterous supporters from both sides were treated to a thoroughly entertaining, end-to-end encounter.
The attacking intent of both sides was evident, with both the hosts and visitors showing little hesitation in piling bodies forward.
The hosts looked to test Ed Hall early on, but the young stopper demonstrated why Mark Bower has placed faith in him with a series of saves.
Jamie Spencer almost broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion, but his long-range piledriver was tipped over the crossbar by Lloyd Allinson.
Former Avenue cult hero Tom Greaves then came close to opening the scoring for the hosts, sliding and failing to capitalise on a Craig Lindfield cross that evaded him by mere inches.
Chaos then ensued in the closing minutes of the first-half as Matt Hill received his marching orders to the shock of the ground, after seemingly making a strong-but-fair challenge.
The resulting free-kick was rifled into the top corner by Jeff King, stunning Avenue and their supporters.
Moments later, the shock turned to fury as Oli Johnson was dismissed in as equally bizarre fashion for a foul that didn’t seem deserving of the punishment it received.
Avenue struggled to remain in contention after the break and were dealt a further blow in the shape of an injury to Adam Boyes, who joined Rob Atkinson in the treatment room after the defender’s earlier withdrawal.
The hosts doubled their advantage with another King free-kick, with a deflection helping it on its way as Hall was rendered helpless.
With Avenue camped in their own half, substitute Gerard Garner hammered home from close-range after the ball broke loose in the box to extend FC United’s lead.
A Shane Killock handball presented the hosts with another opportunity to find the back of the net and King converted from twelve yards with an audacious chip down the middle.
Avenue supporters remained loud and passionate, but their side faced an uphill battle to regain a foothold in the game and predictably failed to do so.
The game finished 4-0, with Mark Bower sympathetic towards the travelling supporters at the final whistle after two red cards marred the encounter.
FC United of Manchester: Allinson, Senior, Higham, Kay, Hughes, Fagbola, Crawford (Garner 65’), Irwin, Greaves, King (McCarthy 79’), Lindfield (c) (Glynn 36’).
Unused substitutes: Racchi, Tattum.
Bradford Park Avenue: Hall, Ross, Hill, Wroe (c), Atkinson (Toulson 26’), Killock, Brooksby, Vidal, Boyes (Mulhern 45’), Johnson, Spencer (Boshell 55’).
Unused substitutes: Havern, Smith.
Referee: David Underwood