AFC Didsbury 2
Goals: Corcoran (2)
Man of the Match: Lee
Didsbury get a semi as they despatch MUSC in the quarters…
AFC Didsbury booked their place in the semi-finals of the John Old Cup with a hard fought 2-1 victory against last year’s winners and their long standing rivals Manchester United Supporters Club.
Going into the game, Manager Adam Mussinho was missing the holy trinity of Pavol Vasko, Neil Creasey and top scorer Mike Corbett. This grave situation was made worse by the late withdrawal of Captain, John Battersby, despite the pleas of his gaffer that he ought to battle through the pain barrier based on the sound logic that ‘You don’t play any better when you’re not injured anyway’.
Unable to take part in the game, Battersby instead reverted to his less familiar role of assistant manager and delivered a rousing team talk, which made hairs stand up on the back of necks and left a few of the players reaching for the Kleenex. Channelling the motivational skills of the legendary Vince Lombardi, he reminded the players that 2014 was fast becoming a ‘beautiful year’ for this maturing squad. The message was clear, rise to the occasion, seize the moment and a semi-final place would be ours.
MUSC demonstrated their traditionally unorthodox approach to the pre-match warm up by turning up 20 minutes late for kick off. For a team defending the prestigious John Old Cup, this felt like a lack of respect for the famous old trophy and a hungry Didsbury outfit were in no mood to forgive them.
Perhaps due to the relaxed warm up, MUSC were caught cold as Didsbury launched attack after attack in the opening 5 minutes. This pressure was rewarded when left winger Rick Peat displayed some really lovely feet, to dance around the right back and deliver a peach of a ball for John Corcoran to tap home from 5 yards.
The opening half hour saw wave after wave of Didsbury attack as Rick Peat and Gaz Lee caused havoc down the flanks. Only some shocking finishing from Messrs Corcoran and Whiteley kept the score line at 1-0.
The away side, MUSC, seemed content to sit back and soak up pressure and launch the occasional counter attack. With a couple of minutes to go until half time, a MUSC free kick was tipped over the bar by Didsbury’s underworked, but overpaid goalkeeper James Leighton. Sloppy marking from the resulting corner allowed MUSC’s vertically challenged forward to rise above the flat-footed Didsbury defence and head into the top right hand corner of the goal, drawing the sides level.
The 2nd half continued in a similar vein to the first, with new signing Gaz Lee repeatedly skipping past his marker and delivering numerous dangerous crosses into the box. Unfortunately for the home side, many of these chances were spurned with Corcoran being the main guilty party.
Midway through the second period, defender Wayne Rogers’s weekend bedroom exploits appeared to catch up with him as he was forced to leave the action complaining of an itchy todger. This forced Mussionho into a tactical reshuffle with Mackie dropping into centre back and @GazNewOffical and Mike Hay entering the fray.
The Didsbury missed chances seemed to spur on MUSC, who grew in belief and created a number of threatening set piece opportunities following some textbook cynical fouls from Tom Whiteley, Adam Musson and stand-in captain, Colin McDonald.
Just as the game seemed to be heading for extra time, the match was finally decided by a relieved John Corcoran. A free kick deep in the Didsbury half was beautifully flighted by Ben Jaffray towards his West Cumbrian compatriot Matty Harrison, who flicked the ball into the mixer. A panicked MUSC defender then played a weak back pass, which was intercepted by a grateful Corcoran who calmly rounded the keeper and slotted into an empty net. The final few minutes were uneventful as Didsbury ran the clock down with ease.
A second quarter final next week, this time against lower league opposition, means that belief is growing amongst the squad who have their sights firmly fixed on achieving Musson’s early season objective of reaching a cup final for the first time in the club’s history. Whilst it is maybe too early to book the open top bus, there is a growing feeling that 2014 may indeed turn out to be a beautiful year for Didsbury.
Words by Ben Jaffray