AFC Didsbury weathered a second half storm at Nello James to grab a goal against the run of play and secure their third win of the season.
The game started in a cagey fashion, with both teams aware of their opponent’s abilities, from the previous seasons' bouts. It was Nello James who were starting to ask questions as the half drew on, utilising their pacey wide men to good effect. Didsbury's keeper, James Leighton, was in imperious form all afternoon however, pulling off numerous saves as his goal was peppered.
Didsbury dropped their 4-3-3 formation in the second half in an attempt to retain possession in the final third, as they struggled to keep the ball out their half.
As the game wore on it became more stretched, and this worked to Nello James' advantage as they counter-attacked a number of times and created several chances. The fact that no Nello goal was forthcoming was as much a testament to the Leighton’s safe hands as it was to some sloppy finishing from the home side's forwards.
Then ten minutes from the end, Ben Jaffray lofted a free-kick lofted into the box, which was then flicked on by Didsbury striker, Matt Harrison. The ball skidded and ricocheted out of the Nello keeper's hands, and Didsbury winger, Rick Peat, was first to react, tucking the ball home for a real smash-and-grab goal for the visitors.
Didsbury did enough in an edgy close to the game, with Nello James kicking themselves at the final whistle.
Didsbury steamroller shell-shocked Supporters Club
Didsbury produced their finest performance in three years to stun title chasing Manchester United Supporters Club (MUSC) and record their first victory over these opponents.
Didsbury set out their stall early on, playing a high tempo, high pressing game in order to starve MUSC of possession, whilst putting pressure on their normally calm back four.
The game plan couldn’t have worked better in the first half with the defence, midfield and forwards all playing a high line. MUSC’s defence started to crack, with Rick Peat and Pavol Vasko working well to win the ball in the opposition half, before Vasko laid it on a plate for man of the match, Tom Whiteley, to open the scoring within 10 minutes.
Didsbury were continuously applying the pressure and gave the home side very little time on the ball. The Didsbury forwards chased down every loose pass and Peat’s tenacity allowed him to snatch the ball from the dawdling MUSC full back and pick out the marauding Whiteley for his second goal of the game.
With only half an hour on the clock, it looked like Peat had put the game to bed, slotting home after Corbett had hit the post in a truly one sided first half.
MUSC were not going to roll over though, and came out in the second half with intent and purpose. A corner was poorly dealt with by Didsbury and the ball eventually found the back of the net, to bring MUSC back into the game.
Unlike in previous seasons, Didsbury didn’t buckle under the pressure with the back four never really looking troubled. MUSC became more frustrated and the game started to descend into a feisty affair. Both sides were reduced to 10 men and it looked like the more open game could suit MUSC.
However, this was not to be, as two of Didsbury’s substitutes combined well to seal the victory. Gareth New surged down the left wing, cutting the ball back to the edge of the box to see Didsbury veteran, Paul Johnson, curl in from 20 yards to make it 4-1. The game was now well and truly out of reach for the home side and the final whistle blew moments later.
A dominant performance from start to finish against last season’s runners up should hopefully be the springboard Didsbury need to get their season up and running.