The Lambs welcomed FC United of Manchester to Tamworth for the first home game of 2016 as Andy Morrell looked to his squad to give a hard working and crowd pleasing performance after the disappointment of last minute defeat away at Alfreton in the opening fixture of the year.
Morrell made just one change to the side that fell by the solitary last minute goal by dropping himself from the teamsheet to include Elliott Durrell, complete with new hairstyle, and was looking to end the run of five games without a point, against a side near the bottom of the table but turning in the occasional shock, including a recent win over Nuneaton Town.
The Lambs kicked off, attacking the Castle End in the first half and a Dyer header to Taylor indicated a positive start to the match. Tamworth’s positive attitude saw them mainly playing their football in the FCUM half for the opening five minutes and a foul on Durrell on 6 allowed him to put the deadball on the head of Preston, but he was leaning back when he met it and the defenders header went over the target. The visitors started to get more of the game as the minutes ticked on and a foul by Green in the centre circle allowed the ball to make it’s way back to Belshaw. A couple of niggly fouls by FCUM set up Durrell with two deadballs a minute or two apart but both times the ball was headed away by the United defenders. After a Strong run down the left wing the defender was booked for protesting the decision to award the throw in the visitors. On 27, Smyth was sent off for the visitors, following his challenge through and taking out Taylor in the process. From the Durrell freekick, Preston nearly connected in front of goal but just missed it by a whisker. Durrell then picked up a booking for a challenge that seemed to be OK, with the midfielder winning the ball, but the referee spotted something and stopped play to take his name. Kay was then booked for a challenge on Strong in front of The Shed on 32 and conceded a foul on 37 but escaped a second yellow, allowing Durrell to take another freekick. In added time at the end of the first half, United almost went in with a half time lead but Thompson's drive clipped the outside of the left hand upright before the whistle blew.
HT: Tamworth 00 FC United of Manchester
United restarted the match and on 49 the first chance fell to Durrell, from a Strong pass through the back line the Lambs midfielder flicked the ball goalward but there was no one quick enough to sprint onto the half chance. Smith was replaced by Hubbins on 52 and on 55 Taylor received the ball on the edge of the area in a good position but had to get a quick shot away and it curled high and wide of the target, over the hoardings above the away end. Newton replaced Dyer on the hour as a Durrell freekick went too long for anyone to do anything with. Clarke was then penalised for a foul 30 yards out and on 64, Thompson sent the freekick goalward but it didn’t trouble Belshaw at all. Rain started to make things slippy around the 70 minute mark and Taylor spun the ball into the danger area but it went back to Carnell in the visitors goal. Preston inadvertently conceded a corner with a miss-kicked clearance on 73 and Daniels met the flagkick with his head but skimmed the ball well wide of the mark. A Lambs corner came on 76 came to nothing and United broke down the right. Lindfield's ball over the last two Lambs defenders set up Thompson free on goal to face Belshaw and after a little hesitation he put it into the bottom right corner (0-1, 77 mins) The rain continued to fall on The Lamb as eleven v ten continued to do produce very little in either of the two final thirds of the pitch. A freekick on 88 gave Thompson a cance from the deadball 20 yards out and it just missed the target. The Lambs forced a last minute corner at the Cross Street side of the ground in added time and it eventually fell onto the head of newton to head home from a yard out despite the best intentions of Carnell. (1-1, 90 mins). Two further corners came in added time but there was no last gasp winner as both sides shared the spoils and deny the travelling fans victory celebrations.