AFC DIDSBURY: Westall, Mackie, Bishop (C), Bolas, McDonald, Agyeman (Wallace), Kilgour (L Darlington), Harrison, Ferguson, M Darlington (Menghini), Smith (Kennedy).
GOALS: Smith (2), M Darlington, Agyeman, Kennedy (2), Menghini (2) ASSISTS: Agyeman, Smith, Bolas (2), Kilgour, Kennedy, Wallace MAN OF THE MATCH: Bolas
THE GRAND OLD DUKE COULDN'T STOP THE DIDSBURY MEN
Concerns over recent form were laid to rest at the weekend as AFC Didsbury made the short trip to Hazel Grove to hammer AFC Duke 8-0 in a tasty affair at Torkington Park. In his programme notes, manager Adam Musson delivered inspiring words to the players calling for gladiators with hearts like lions. The question on everybody’s lips was not “how would the players react?” but more “who the fuck uses ‘resonate’?” Musson wasn’t at the game, his absence softened by assistant James Leighton who, in a show of fortitude, started the mind games early by bellowing out the pre match team talk in the presence of the opposition manager.
Didsbury took to the pitch and started in their usual sluggish fashion with Duke looking the livelier of the two teams in the early exchanges. It didn’t take long though for Didsbury to release the handbrake and break the deadlock as good work by Matt Darlington released the pacey and ever punctual Eugene Agyeman on the right wing. The Kanchelskis of Didsbury glided past his man before delivering a low cross for a first time finish by Kieran Smith.
Didsbury had now grasped the game by the scruff of the neck but the events that followed shocked the nation more than Brexit. Maybe it was the extra Weetabix for breakfast or a response to "that email" but after a fair challenge by Colin McDonald, some handbags, a flying ball, a couple of pushes, grappling and accusations of a head butt, captain Chris Bishop (who has never been sent off… or booked…or littered….or even swore in his life) got carried away in the moment and summoned his inner Stone Cold Steve Austin. With no option, the referee reduced both teams to 10 men.
Ever the tactician, Leighton ditched the conservative approach and opted for three at the back to the surprise of the travelling fans. This positivity paid off and it wasn’t long before the lead was doubled by Matt Darlington who capitalised on a keeper error to side foot in from 12 yards. Smith added a third moments later from the penalty spot following a handball by Dukes’ resident Dodge ball enthusiast.
The game still had an air of mischief with the main culprit being the home teams No 10, El Capitano and Fantasista who was a constant thorn in the Oranges side. He was eventually put in his place by the free styling football of Pete Kilgour who delicately lifted the ball over his head not once, not twice but thrice.
Didsbury were now firmly in the ascendancy but this came at a cost. After the fourth goal by Agyeman following lovely work down the left by the excellent and reassuring Warren Bolas, Didsbury lost both strikers to glass ankles just before half time. From the bench stepped the unflustered Matt Kennedy and with an air of sophistication, received the ball 25 yards out and elegantly turned his marker one way, then another, then another like a conductor waving his baton before lofting the ball over the perplexed goalkeeper. Five nil at the break.
The second half began as the first had finished and Didsbury continued to attack in a very much one-sided game. AFC Duke had now resorted to long balls which were bread and butter for the experienced rear guard whilst at the other end, Adam Ferguson, Lloyd Darlington and even Jonathan Mackie went close, before a glaring miss by Matt Harrison made it look like five might just be the limit on this occasion. Harrison’s blushes were spared though by the reliable Ross Menghini who not only managed to bag himself a brace to make it 7-0, but also managed to miss two sitters himself like only Rossi Rosenthal can.
Cue Reggae football and the eighth and final goal starting with Bolas striding down the left hand touchline to the chants of "Go on Warren, show them how good you are”. He duly obliged and delivered a sublime low cross for Kennedy to flick home with a deft touch.
The final minutes of the game petered out with little resilience from the home team. All in all it was a good day at the office and more importantly progress into the next round of the cup. Bishop now waits with bated breath for the striking of the gavel from Didsbury’s very own Judge Rinder resulting in a 50p sized hole in his pocket.
Words by Chris Bishop
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