AFC Didsbury reach Semi Finals of the Memorial Cup 2013-14
Goals: McDonald, MacHugh, Whiteley, Corbett
Assists: Harrison, Corbett, New, Creasey
Man of the Tournament: Jaffray
AFC Didsbury Squad: Bermingham, Corbett, Creasey, Harrison, Jaffray, Leighton, MacHugh, Mackie, McDonald, Musson, New, Peat, Rogers, Stiff, Whiteley.
The sun was shining and Didsbury were feeling positive, having taken a strong 15 man squad to Turn Moss for the 2013-14 Memorial Cup. Their opening group game, against Turnpike Pirates, saw Didsbury take a 1-0 lead after Matt Harrison’s thunderous header hit the post and captain, Colin McDonald, was on hand to slot away the rebound. Didsbury then controlled the closing moments of the game and came away with the full three points.
Their next opponents, Recreativo Rusholme, failed to create many chances and Didsbury looked the better side for most of the game. The only goal of the match came at the half way stage when Mike Corbett’s shot was palmed away by the opposition goalkeeper and Kieran MacHugh made no mistake on his return to the club.
Didsbury’s penultimate game in the group was against fellow premiership opposition, Halton Juniors. This game was much tighter than the opening fixtures, as neither side wanted to leave themselves too wide open to the counter attack. The key moment of the match came when one of the Halton Juniors players saw red after throwing a punch at Tom Whiteley, which fortunately failed to connect. Corbett could have sealed the victory against the 10 men side, but his attempt to lob the keeper went just over the bar.
The final game of the group was between AFC Didsbury and Division 2 side, Urmston Mens. Didsbury needed 3 points to win the group and progress to the quarter finals and with only 5 minutes remaining in the match, the score remained at 0-0. Didsbury then won a corner, which was whipped in by Gareth New and found the head of Whiteley. His header hit the cross bar and from the referee’s perspective it then crossed the line. Didsbury may admit some good fortune here but it was clear that the right team went on to win the group.
Mancunian Wave were to be Didsbury’s next opponents and the quarter final match turned out to be a fairly competitive encounter. Didsbury edged the possession but their chances were limited. In the final few minutes of the match midfield maestro, Neil Creasey, picked out Corbett who found himself one-on-one. Didsbury’s number 9 made up for his earlier squander by calmly slotting the ball under the body of the onrushing keeper. In the final moments of the match, Mancunian Wave sent their keeper into the box for a last ditch attempt but the free kick was well defended and Didsbury locked down their fifth successive clean sheet.
The semi-final draw saw Didsbury up against a much tougher opponent, in Manchester United Supporters Club. Didsbury could be very pleased with their performance so far in the day but they now appeared tired and struggled to maintain possession in this game. MUSC were knocking the ball around for fun and always looked the more likely to score. Their centre forward broke the deadlock midway through the game but goalkeeper, James Leighton, may feel he could have done better had he got a stronger hand to the ball. Harrison had a chance to level the match in the closing moments but his shot went just over the bar. The game finished 1-0 but Didbsury have many positives to take from the tournament, especially having only conceded 1 goal all day.
AFC Didsbury face Manchester United Supporters Club away in the league next weekend and will be keen to put in a much stronger performance over 90 minutes. This is a now a big week of preparation for the South Manchester club and they will be hopeful that everyone is fit and raring to go by Sunday 6 October.
Words by Adam Musson