Although Shots Manager Dean Holdsworth and his players would (quite rightly) disagree....for most Shots fans, this was always going to be about the occasion, rather than the result - and a wonderful spine tingling occasion it was too.......the EBB Stadium packed to it's aging rafters, Sky Sports broadcasting live across more than 20 countries around the world, queues outside at 5.45pm, 120 journalists packed into the Press Box....and some 40 photographers around the pitch. It could only mean one thing...Manchester United were in town!
A wounded Man United too, itching to bounce back following their 6-1 trouncing at Old Trafford by rivals City just two days earlier.
Shots settled quickly though and did themselves justice all around the park in the opening 45 minutes. United - as expected, commanded possession for the most part, but Shots had their moments too, half chances came and went for Hylton, Rodman, Rankine and McGlashan. Inbetween, Berbatov (15) & Owen (40) tucked away classy finishes, both from close range following quick neat build up and par for the course, United led 2-0 at the break.
Bubb came on for Rodman, who had injured a shoulder earlier. United remained unchanged. Just three minutes into the second half, United went 3-0 up thanks to a classy 20 yard strike from Valencia. He looked up, struck it powerfully and it dipped over Worner. Then followed a period of stalemate, with United coasting and Shots conscious of wanting respectability.
Holdsworth brought on Collins for Vincenti. United brought on a couple of youngsters.
In the closing minutes, Shots had more chances. Bubb blazed over, Guttridge, with the best chance of the evening for Shots, saw his right foot shot slip just past the post and then saw Amos save his well struck free-kick.
All in all, a par victory for United, but a sterling effort from Shots, who were never overwawed by the occasion and did themselves proud.