AFC Didsbury: Stiff, Johnson, McDonald (C), Hadfield, Darlington (Musson), Whiteley, Harrison, Vasko, García García (Wallace), Corbett, Kennedy (New).
GOALS: Vasko (2), García García ASSISTS: Kennedy, García García, Corbett MAN OF THE MATCH: Vasko
No love lost as Didsbury come out on top
The Valentines weekend saw a depleted Didsbury squad take on Nello James who were fresh off the back of a 6-4 victory over Halton Juniors. With a lot of the players putting the “close the gate” warm up to good use until the early hours it allowed the manager a rare foray into his player/manager role as he named himself on the bench.
Given the weekend it may have surprised many that Didsbury’s own ginger Neuer, Mike Stiff, was able to walk following his ruthless degrading of his female captive the night before, let alone make his debut between the sticks.
It was a dominant start for Didsbury and for once this yielded an early goal. A long ball by Matt Kennedy caused the Nello keeper to sprint off his line and scuff a clearance straight to the feet of Pavol Vasko who lobbed the ball first time over the retreating goalkeeper into the far corner.
Didsbury remained much the better side but it was a long ball over the top that almost undid all their hard work. The whippet of a striker beat the offside trap and bore down on goal but must have momentarily been star struck as Prince Harry came out to meet him. Stiff was able to save well and hold on to the ball in a situation which should have brought Nello level.
That was to be Nello’s only sight of goal in the first half and seemed to kick Didsbury back into action as the solitary goal lead was shown to be a precarious one.
The second goal was not long in coming (something which I am all too familiar with) and was, in the words of Battersby, “a magnificent goal, simple as that”. Magnificent it certainly was though as Didsbury worked the ball from left to right, then down the right flank near the corner flag. With seemingly nowhere to go a quick one two gets the ball into the penalty area and then 3 one touch passes later it is at the feet of our favourite Eastern European, who sees his first attempt saved but makes no mistake with the second, smashing it into the back of the net. Ruud Gullit coined the term “sexy football” and now I understood what he meant as I felt the snake stir in appreciation.
It was looking comfortable for Didsbury, so much so that manager, Adam Musson, was being allowed to experiment and so he let Kenners have some shooting practice, but this came to an abrupt end as they were posing a threat to low flying aircraft. Musson then allowed Tom Whiteley into the box but when the ball found him 8 yards out it was his control that yielded the goal kick rather than his shooting. At the other end the lack of action meant Stiff forgot where he was as he lapsed into 5-a-side rules and tried to roll out of his hands from a goal kick.
Eventually a third goal did arrive. Man of the match Vasko dances past a couple of players on the left before delivering a sublime cross into the 6 yard box where 3 unmarked Didsbury players wait. However rather than simply smashing it in, they decided to show what a great team spirit we have by letting each of them have a touch before Jorge García García applied the finishing touch.
3-0 at half time and fully deserved.
Nello came out in the second half knowing that if they could get an early goal then they may yet be able to salvage from the game. Didsbury's first half dominance was not repeated in the first 15 minutes as Nello gave as good as they got but neither side were able to test either keeper.
As the hour mark approached the first change were made as Jack Wallace came on for the impressive Garcia Garcia, and so switching the team to the classic 4-4-2 formation. Was it this change of formation or was it a lapse in concentration but soon after the change Nello finally got the goal they had been looking for. The ball looked to be going harmlessly out for a Didsbury goal kick, being shepherded out by the ever watchful Colin McDonald, but then out of nowhere the Nello forward nipped around him and got a toe on it to poke it back into the 6 yard area. Stiff and the other striker launched themselves at the ball but it broke kindly for the Nello forward and he was able to slot it into the empty net. 3-1.
Nello were pushing up the pitch now and this was leaving them vulnerable at the back. Wallace, back in the squad after eye surgery, latched onto a huge Stiff kick which deceived the Nello defence, but despite his perfect vision he failed to see the keeper was stood on his line so his attempted lob was a waste.
Vasko continued to be a thorn in the Nello's right side as he repeatedly skipped past the full back to deliver tantalising crosses, the first fell to Wallace who scuffed his shot wide, and the second to Kenners who failed to make contact with the goal gaping. That was all but his last contribution as Mr Muscle himself, Gaz New, took his place.
New gave Didsbury a new dimension allowing them to play the ball in behind. And it was good play from New which saw his crossed headed clear to Whiteley. His eyes lit up as it fell beautifully for a first time volley. The whole of Didsbury held their breath as he catches it perfectly and like a missile it bares down on goal. The same thing runs through every Didsbury players head “I'm still hearing about that scuffed goal he scored back in November, how many times will I have to hear this one?”. Fortunately, the Nello defender did everyone a favour by putting in a superb block and not only keeping Nello in the game but saving the Didsbury team from going voluntarily deaf.
Nello were having more of the ball but all the chances were falling to Didsbury. The only time they looked in danger was when they overplayed it at the back causing McDonald to make a couple of excellent last ditch tackles to avert the danger.
At this stage New was so confident of his pace he was mocking the Nello defence as he walked around them with his hands in his pockets, or perhaps just prepping himself for the post-match shower.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes hard man Vasko was again in the thick of the action. Vasko known for his love of a good scrap was deemed to have taken down the man mountain at the back unfairly by the referee and whilst they exchanged words he was slapped which unbelievably went unpunished.
With 2 minutes to go the Didsbury defence passed the ball straight to the Nello striker in the area and he was able to jink past his marker before firing past Stiff into the far corner.
Despite the possibility of a nervy few minutes, with the exception of Musson being “backed into by their winger” and then falling over claiming a penalty, which was emphatically not given by the ref, Didsbury comfortably saw the game out. Relief all round but not least for Stiff’s woman as she would only have to enact out chapters 6-14 of 50 Shades of Grey, as he was in a good mood, as he and Didsbury left with the 3 points.