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Man Utd 2012

Players from both sets of teams walked out of the tunnel as the familiar Champions League theme music - synonymous with the club for many years - echoed around Old Trafford. It was a memorable moment for all the proud players involved and there to ensure that they enjoyed their day that bit extra were Manchester United Icon and Football Aid Patron Denis Law as well as playing legends David May and Clayton Blackmore.

The match started with both teams taking chances and wanting to play fast, attacking ‘Manchester United' football. The vocal spectators matched their surroundings with fantastic support, including additional megaphones; banners and shirts of support all encouraging their players throughout this very entertaining game.

But it was the Home team than ran out 7-3 winners after overpowering the Away side for large parts of the game and playing excellent counter attacking football. The Home team's Tom Howard, Sam Cunningham (3), Wayne Richardson (2) and Martin McCarthy all managed to get their names on the Old Trafford score sheet, with Matteo Giacobone (2) and Adrian Alcock managing to get the Away team's consolation goals.

Date: Thursday 17th May 2012
Venue: Old Trafford
Manchester United Home vs Manchester United Away
Kick Off: 10:30am
Legends:  Clayton Blackmore and David May
Match Officials: Andy Winnard, Gavin Brewer, Luke Watson and Terry Connolly

Home Legend David May shared his Old Trafford experience with the players prior to kick off explaining "... save your legs because it is a big pitch and you'll see from kick off the lads will be going 100mph...take your time...".

The Away team in Blue and Black featured a large squad of Italian friends, who were celebrating a Stag Do (Addio Al Celibato) in style, with a vocal band of tifosi on hand to cheer them on as well! Their team also featured Legend Clayton Blackmore, whose experience would have been invaluable in the early stages and they were looking to follow in the Football Aid trend in 2012, and register another Away team victory.

It was a very steady start by both teams with each team wanting to get a good first touch and become familiar with the excellent playing surface. Fabio Russo started very lively on the right hand side, and after a quick interchange of passing with Captain Matteo Giacobone, Russo was able to thread a ball through to Adrian Alcock. The Away No 11 then hit a warning shot just outside the area but just wide of the post.

Despite the Away team's early pressure, it was the Home side that recorded the game's first goal after a few nervous mistakes at the back in the 6th min. Trying to get a passing move together, the Away side were knocking the ball around at the back, and the alert Tom Howard was able to intercept a pass between Matteo Magagnoli and Riccardo Biglia to have a run in at goal. The Home Striker was able to carry the ball to just outside the edge of the box unchallenged and he unleashed a powerful, swerving shot to beat goalkeeper Luca Paglia, who could only get a hand to it before the ball rippled the back of the net. (1-0)

14 mins in and it was now end to end, and doing his best to make sure that his team weren't on the losing team, Russo set up the Away team's next attack. Coming in from the near touchline, Russo was able to carry the ball inside and find the run of Marco Magagnoli. Magagnoli showed great feet to skilfully take it past two defenders and hit a low drive at the edge of the post. The shot going just wide of the keeper's right post.

The equaliser wasn't long in arriving though, Captain Matteo Giacobone starting and finished the move in the 16th min. Picking the ball up in the centre of the field, the Away No 9 was able to string a pass to Federico Sommella, who had great vision and accuracy to pick out Fabrizio Parodi on the far right wing. Parodi was then able to beat the right back and get towards the touchline before squaring the ball across to Matteo Giacobone who just had to side-foot a finish into the net and get his ‘Live the Dream' goal. There was a well rehearsed goal celebration after, with eight of the team trying to match the ‘Sharpe Shuffle' or ‘Nani's Somersault' with their very own ‘Sicily Surfboard', pretending to be wading at sea and then all jumping to catch a wave. (1-1)

The game continued to alternate between the two teams as they tried to get a hold of the game and strong challenges by both sets of players were starting to become a popular theme, with Russo feeling the full force of an experienced challenge by David May in the 21st min....

An unbelievable effort was matched by an unbelievable save two mins later. The Home team mounted an attack after great passing between Brian Donne, Georgie Wynne and Wayne Richardson, before a pass out wide to Sam Cunningham. A few more intricate passes by the Home team on the edge of the box were matched by great defending by Matteo Magagnoli, Giacobone and Marco Magagnoli, all putting in great block challenges. However the ball rebounded out to Home Captain Graeme Taylor who had the ability and grace to weave through three Away defenders before attempting a delicate lob 25 yards out. The Cantona-esque effort looked like it was dipping in over the keeper, but Luca Paglia was somehow able to get a left arm across and push it over the bar to make a spectacular save.

The pressure continued from the relentless Home side as they felt they had the Away team pinned back well into their own half. A clearance by Giacobone in the 25th min smashed the ball further up field but the next ‘wave' of attack that the Away team had to contend with was by the Reds. An excellent challenge by Donne, to control the high ball and knock to the right wing, was followed by a great cross to the back post to the feet of Martin McCarthy. McCarthy hit a looping shot from 8 yards out but again Paglia pulled off a very acrobatic save, but the ball rebounded off the post for Home No 10 Sam Cunningham to calmly finish into the roof of the net. (2-1)

The lead was short lived as the Away team responded instantly, the ball was kicked up-field and after great defending by Donne to get back and deny Giacobone from getting onto a threaded ball by Matteo Magagnoli, a corner kick was given. An out swinging corner by Fabrizio Parodi was flicked away by Home midfielder Wynne, but only found the boot of Biglia who volleyed the ball back into the danger area to the keeper's left post. The ball was travelling with speed and rebounded off Jay Eaton's shin and straight into the path of the grateful Adrian Alcock, who was in the perfect position to fire into the open net. Amsterdam based Football Aid regular Alcock celebrated in typically exuberant style and now has the distinction of playing in Goal, winning Man of the Match, and scoring both for his own team and the opposition at Old Trafford! (2-2)

As half-time approached a long kick by Home ‘keeper Ronnie Smollet was left to bounce and managed to clear the Away defenders for Home striker Tom Howard to chase onto the end of it. Howard unselfishly, took the ball closer to goal to draw in the defenders before passing to Right Midfielder Wayne Richardson. Richardson, wearing the famous number 7 shirt showed composure to turn inside the last defender before hitting the ball into the net from close range to give his team a narrow 1st half lead. (3-2)

Half-Time: Manchester United Home 3 - 2 Manchester United Away

The 2nd half began as the 1st ended, with the Home team in the ascendency. Only another trademark wonder save by Paglia kept the game at 3-2 after a solid Cunningham effort from the edge of the box.

It was constant Home attack and the Away side were struggling with the pace and decisive passing by the Reds. Only mins later, another shot by Martin McCarthy whistled past the keeper's right hand post from just inside the corner of the box.

5 mins into the half and David May spotted a great run by McCarthy down the right wing, the No 9 eager as always to get onto the end of it. However, Away central defender Graeme Astwood produced a saving tackle to deny another goal threat, tracking the run and putting in an effective slide challenge. The referee deemed the challenge fair and waived play on and Astwood was then quick enough to get the ball and pass square to his legendary defensive partner Clayton Blackmore. However, video replays indicate the challenge may have been slightly late on the Home striker....

This actually triggered an Away attack, with Steven Westhead on the left wing at the half way line, producing a great run by originally putting the ball through David May's legs, and continuing to the edge of the box to slide through a pass to Alcock to put the ball into the back of the net, but he was flagged for offside and the goal didn't count.

Tom Howard was causing problems again a min later for the very busy Away defence as the Home side was exploiting the big gap between the defence and midfield for the Away team. Howard was able to get the ball to the touchline before pulling back a pass to the feet of Wynne who like a few of his team-mates earlier, thought he had scored but Luca Paglia again denied the midfielder's excellent effort with another acrobatic save.

Clayton Blackmore then intercepted the ball in the left back position on 53 mins and after taking the ball up field, produced an exquisite chip over the last defender for Russo, but Russo unfortunately couldn't get enough connection behind the ball and tamely put the shot into goalkeeper Smollet's arms.

2 mins later and the ball was in the back of the net again, with the Home team again exposing the defensive frailties of the team in Blue and Black. With the Away team trying to force the issue of getting a goal back, they were caught short at the back as Howard and Richardson were able to combine in the middle of the pitch and go on the counter attack. Richardson did superbly to keep the ball in possession and drag four Away defenders out of position, then a simple through ball found its way to the feet of the open Martin McCarthy who had enough time to pick his spot and drill it into to the keeper's near post from 6 yards out. Paglia did well to even get a hand to it, but the impressive keeper couldn't prevent the ball from crossing the line. (4-2)

The Home side still wanted more goals and it was two goals in as many minutes shortly after. The Away team were struggling to get enough men behind the ball time and as a consequence Sam Cunningham was able to run into massive open spaces and dictate play excellently. Picking the ball up in the centre, the No 10 picked out McCarthy on the right side, before he put in a deep cross to switch play to Tom Howard. Howard played a give and go with Cunningham, who found his pass across goal intercepted by the hardworking Astwood. The centre back collected the ball and attempted a pass to clear the danger, but could only find the feet of the Home side's Richardson, who weaved his way back into the box before pulling it back for the alert Sam Cunningham to control and smash it home for his team's 5th. (5-2)

Just after the hour mark and a lot of credit was due to the Away team since conceding the last goal, as they were beginning to mount more attacks on the Home defence. Captain Giacobone made a great run down the left wing towards goal before playing the ball to Russo, who was able to use his pace and get behind the right back. The ball was whipped across goal, between the Home defenders to the isolated Alcock, however instead of shooting at goal, he unselfishly flicked it behind him for Giacobone to finish, but the pass was too close to goalkeeper Smollet who showed great alertness to collect the ball. It was a wasted chance for the Away side to register their third goal and reduce their deficit.

On 65 mins an Away attack was broken down by a timely interception by Wayne Richardson, who was free to attack the defence again with the midfield left behind on the half-way line. The Home team's deserved Man of the Match was left to carry the ball towards goal before curling a right footed shot to the keeper's left from 20 yards, with Paglia rooted to the spot. The effort looked like it was goal-bound but it hit the post, but to Richardson's delight it rebounded back into his path for him to delicately chip over the advancing keeper to score. (6-2)

Frustration started to show in the Away team and no nonsense centre back Riccardo Biglia was booked for a high challenge after he was dispossessed well by the Red team. The Away team were constantly defending and spending long parts of the game chasing the ball in vain and now tiredness was definitely beginning to show. There was great challenge from David Phelan to deny another goal scoring opportunity shortly after.

However the gritty Away team weren't giving up and they managed to grab their 3rd goal from a corner kick taken by Parodi with only minutes left on the clock. A great cross in by the No 8 was too high and found its way over both Alcock and Astwood on the 6 yard line, but the ball bounced kindly in front of Captain Matteo Giacobone, who struck a great half volley into the roof of the net. It took fantastic technique to half volley from the acute angle at the back post. (6-3)

The final goal of the game was scored with the last kick of the game, after a combination of both great attacking pressure and poor defending. Richardson again driving through the centre of the Away team was able to pick out McCarthy to strike at goal, but he saw his effort rebound of the post. Parodi was alert to get the follow up but pressure by Howard rushed Parodi and made him cut back inside towards his own goal before the ball was taken off him and rolled in front of Sam Cunningham to side foot into the near post and claim his ‘Live the Dream' hat-trick. (7-3)

Football Aid Patron Denis Law described the Manchester United 2012 Football Aid experience perfectly "...As a supporter of a particular club to have watched the players play, and now be in the stadium, on this pitch and to raise money for several charities throughout Britain...the whole concept of Football Aid is absolutely fantastic..."

Full-Time: Manchester United Home 7 - 3 Manchester United Away

Man of the Match Home: Wayne Richardson
Man of the Match Away: Matteo Giacobone
Moment of the Match: Luca Paglia

Home Team: Smollet, Bressler, May, Donne, Taylor (C), Wynne, Richardson, Eaton, McCarthy, Cunningham, Howard, Wynne, Iveson, Lavery, Eddison
Home Mascot: Joshua Taylor

Away Team: Paglia, Biglia, Blackmore, Magagnoli, Dore, Sommella, Russo, Parodi, Giacobone (C), Magagnoli, Alcock, Le Pelley, Astwood, Phelan, Westhead
Away Mascot: Freddy Alcock