Goals: Corcoran Assists: Harrison Man of the Match: Battersby
AFC Didsbury slumped to a 2-1 defeat against Sierra Stars, after leading for much of the game.
Brimming with confidence after their positive result last week, Didsbury started the match brightly, taking the game to Sierra stars and causing the defence problems. The early pressure paid off when Matthew Harrison latched onto a Tom Whiteley through ball - the Sierra keeper could only parry Harrison's shot into the path of John Corcoran, who coolly slotted home from eight yards out.
Continuing their early dominance, Didsbury were unlucky not to go two-up a minute later when some good work down the right by Rick Peat led to another great chance, which was volleyed inches over from 12 yards by Whiteley. The Didsbury forward four of Colin McDonald, Peat, Harrison and Corcoran persisted to work hard throughout the first half, creating opportunities, pressuring the Sierra back line, and probably should have extended the lead as a result of their good work.
As the first half wore on, however, the real stars of the show for Didsbury proved to be their four defenders. Club captain and man of the match, John Battersby, marshalled the line superbly, and the Sierra Stars forwards were forced to feed off scraps up until the end of the half.
Didsbury went into the break very much on top, and looking the more likely side to push on in the second half and add to their tally.
Whatever was said by the manager of the Sierra Stars at half-time seemed to work however, and the second half of the match took on a completely different tone, with Sierra exerting real dominance, retaining the ball well, and limiting Didsbury to a counter attacking display.
Having said this, the Didsbury defence continued to stand firm, and for all of their possession, Sierra never really threatened James Leighton in the Didsbury goal. The home side should probably have even put the game out of reach mid-way through the second half with several excellent breakaway opportunities, all of which were squandered by when the attackers really should have done better.
With 15 minutes to go, and Didsbury still hanging on to their slender lead, Sierra managed to break down the defence with a slick passing move, which ended with some good footwork and a cultured finish from the Sierra forward - a forward who if the FA took talk sport's advice on punishing divers, would be facing a retrospective 6-game ban for an outrageous attempt to con the referee into giving him a penalty just minutes before his goal.
Sierra, now clearly sensing the opportunity for all three points, piled on the pressure. Almost immediately, they won the ball in midfield, and crossed a deep ball into the box. Confusion reigned within the battle-weary defence, and a late run from the Sierra forward was rewarded with the winning goal.
The game became very open during the last 10 minutes, with further opportunities for both sides to score, however Sierra managed to hold on for a deserved three points and a first win against AFC Didsbury in their history.
Didsbury must now look to pick themselves up and work hard to put this result right in the Memorial Cup next weekend. I'm sure they can do it.