AFC Didsbury: Rogers, Hadfield (Johnson), Battersby (C), McDonald, Jaffray, Lee, Whiteley, Harrison, Vasko, García García, Kennedy (Mackie).
Goals: Whiteley, Vasko, Lee Assists: McDonald, García García, Harrison Man of the Match: Battersby
Didsbury Halt Juniors
On March 4th 1995, Ipswich Town were beaten 9-0 at home by Manchester United (they even let Roy Keane score – embarrassing). The Tractor Boys didn’t score in their next five games, and lost their next six on the bounce. Crushing defeats can break the weak-willed; so how would AFC Didsbury respond to their 6-1 reversal last time out? Today on a wind-swept Wythenshawe field, AFC Didsbury put on their shin pads (more of that later), got back on their horse, and rode it all the way to a spirited draw. To their credit, every Didsbury player managed to arrive punctually (take that, daylight saving time). However, solving that complex mathematical puzzle obviously took it out of the away side, because most of us were about 15 minutes late when it came to actually competing in the match itself. After just a couple of minutes a Halton Juniors attack down the right lead to a pull-back, which was finished into the far corner by their captain. Looking for a reply Didsbury committed men to a corner, which was dribbled not once but twice into the first defender by Gareth Lee, leading inexcusably to a 3-on-2 counter-attack. Their stocky and skilful left winger finished well with the outside of his boot, and memories of two weeks ago surely entered into the Didsbury players’ minds.
The response was defiant and immediate. Lee managed to finally control the ball, taking everyone including their right-back by surprise, and was taken down on the right flank. Colin McDonald eyed up the wind and the slope, and whipped his left around the ball. A mass of bodies tried to make contact as it headed towards the ‘keeper. Taking advantage of the confusion, Tom Whiteley claimed a goal that should perhaps be credited as an own goal, McDonald’s, or even to ‘the wind’. Opportunism at its best, 2-1.
With that, Didsbury were back. Pavol Vasko, Jorge García García and Matt Kennedy began to link up well; Matt Harrison and Whiteley began to dominate the midfield, and back four began to win their tussles against the shin-pad-less Mennis up top.
As an aside, I have a strange admiration for a player who, after witnessing the truly terrible injury suffered just two weeks ago, decided to eschew this injury-prevention measure. Apparently, when @MennisXCIX goes on rides at Alton Towers, he’s so confident he refuses to pull the bar down. When @MennisXCIX goes on holiday, he’s so confident he doesn’t even buy holiday insurance. When @MennisXCIX is changing a light bulb, he doesn’t bother to switch off the relevant lighting circuit. When @MennisXCIX buys an electrical appliance, he’s so confident he doesn’t even fill in the warranty form. I’ve become distracted, back to the game…
Now an even contest, Didsbury knew they had to make the most of the wind, slope and momentum, all of which were in their favour. Exotic playmaker García García got to the by-line and dinked a sumptuous cross to the back post. Meeting it was Vasko’s right boot, volleying confidently into the roof of the net. A goal made in mainland Europe, it may have upset some UKIP supporters, but it had AFC Didsbury’s in raptures. 2-2 half time.
The second half began without much to note. Halton Juniors had more of the ball, and with the slope now in their favour, had a strong territorial advantage. But with Ben Jaffray and Liam Hadfield making excellent interceptions, and the double-pivot of Whiteley and Harrison ably protecting captain, John Battersby, and McDonald, chances were few and far-between. A five minute break in proceedings further restricted the flow of the game. The ref, seeming believing he is paid by the hour, decided to lecture a large swathe of Halton Juniors’ players and supporters for their incessant claims for unpopular decisions. I spent the time thinking about how hard Mennis must be, and started to partially regret standing up for the ref as I did a few weeks ago. (Although I do stand by what I said, you can’t call a 60 year old man a f***ing c***.).
The break did us no good, and the front four of Halton Juniors began to twist and turn to greater effect. When it came, their goal was relatively simple, and almost an exact copy of our second. A cross was lifted to the back post, and their centre-midfielder met it sweetly on the volley giving goalkeeper, Wayne Rogers, no chance. 3-2.
Again, questions were asked of our character. If some of us fail to digest even the most basic of egg-and-pastry-based savoury foods, do we really have the stomach for the Mikey Williams Premiership fight? Vasko, determined to answer in the affirmative, continued to go at his man up the left. Finding half a yard, he clipped in a cross towards Harrison, who had taken over Kennedy’s Herculean task as the lone striker. Harrison competed well, and when his header was blocked the ball looped into the air just beyond the penalty spot. Lee swivelled and made contact with a difficult left footed volley, which positively sizzled into the bottom corner. 3-3.
Off the bench came Jonny Mackie and Paul Johnson, to provide much needed energy as Didsbury looked to stand firm. Halton threw on yet more forward-thinking players, but diligent and brave defending from all of Didsbury’s players kept the home side at bay. Time and again their quicksilver feet bought them half a yard for a shot, but time and again a Didsbury player was there to make a block – none more so than MOM, Battersby, who really earned his post-match flan.
With time running out the ball landed at the feet of one Juniors’ player, who had the chance to render all of our efforts fruitless. Out came Rogers, and with his outstretched left boot, he made a crucial stop, and secured us an incredibly hard-earned point.
We are not Ipswich Town 1994-1995. We are AFC Didsbury 2014-2015, and we’re back on track.
AFC Didsbury: Rogers, Jaffray, Mackie, Hadfield (Walker), Kilgour (Johnson), Whiteley (C), Peat (Lee), García García (Richardson), Vasko, Corbett, Menghini.
Goals: Menghini Assists: Peat Man of the Match: Whiteley Didsbury hearts are broken after Halton score six.
“Some things in life are bad They can really make you mad Other things just make you swear and curse When you're chewing on life's gristle Don't grumble, give a whistle And this'll help things turn out for the best... And... always look on the bright side of life...”
A lackadaisical display from Didsbury saw them succumb to their first defeat of the season at the hands of Halton Juniors.
The opening exchanges were dominated by the visiting side who managed to carve open the Didsbury defence on a number of occasions. It came as no surprise to see them take the lead and quickly double their advantage within the first 30 minutes of proceedings.Halton were certainly the better side, playing with intensity and pace, managing to exploit the defensive frailties that unusually characterised the Didsbury side. Notable chances continued to present themselves to Halton as they struck the post when it was easier to score, missed an open goal from 6-yards and only a stellar block from part-time goalkeeper, full-time mariner Wayne Rogers, kept the score respectable before half-time.
Going forward, and to the surprise of absolutely no-one in either the replica shirt of AFC Didsbury (proudly sponsored by Fosters Fish and Chips*) or the stylish leisurewear range which can be purchased from the club shop**, Pete Kilgour attempted a left footed shot from range, which threatened the Halton goal. Very briefly. But I’m trying to keep this as positive as I can so bear with me. Barrels and scraping come to mind, I agree, but it did succeed in raising a smile or two. And it’s the tiny moments like that which matter.
Other than that small glimmer of hope, nothing seemed to fall for the team in grey as an attacking force but if I was forced to I could mention Jonny Mackie’s attempt to kick the ball as high as he could in the general direction of the goal, which under this post-modern criteria, seemed successful.
Unfortunately, at this point the game was curtailed for over an hour after a serious injury sustained to Jordan King from Halton Juniors. All at AFC Didsbury wish him a speedy recovery and hope he is back playing soon.
Before the ambulance could even leave the pitch the referee had restarted proceedings and Didsbury offered more in the attacking third, looking to play much shorter and keep possession. Half-time came and passed as Didsbury continued to press, in the hope of getting themselves back in the game. Pavol Vasko nearly converted a good move down the left, whilst Ross Menghini found a yard of space in the box but even they couldn’t quite make Didsbury dominance pay before further defensive lapses put the game beyond doubt.
First from a corner, Halton were able to bring the ball down within 2 yards of goal and fire comprehensively passed the hapless Rogers. They followed this soon after with a goal scored either by walking it through a static backline or from a rebound after a free kick 25 yards out which highlighted a static backline. At this point, whether this was the fourth or in fact the fifth goal conceded is meaningless. You will have literally moved further, and quicker, by reading this than the defence did in either episode.
The game started to meander from this point and many were surprised the ref didn’t blow for full time 20 minutes early, just because he could. Although given his contempt for all things middle-class why would he do that? He loved the sight of Didsbury losing as per. 20 minutes later and relief was granted by the Lee Mason lookalike (that’s as far as any resemblance goes) with the game eagerly poised at 6-1. Ross maintained his excellent start to the season with a header from close range after good work from Rick Peat on the right flank, defying his own resemblance to a certain German, world cup winning centre half. At the other end Halton rubbed further salt into the gaping wounds that were the back four by trying to outdo each other with their own miss of the season competition before even that got boring and some lad decided to smartly pick out the top bag for their sixth.
On any other occasion the day could be described as a success: it didn’t rain, I saw a couple of squirrels and Lewis Hamilton won the grand prix. But ultimately, like any song covered by James Leighton, Didsbury were slaughtered.
“Life's a piece of shit, when you look at it Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true You'll see it’s all a show, keep 'em laughing as you go Just remember that the last laugh is on you” (Monty Python, Life of Brian).
* if you wish to sponsor Didsbury’s premier Sunday League side and benefit from shameless plugs such as this, please contact Adam Musson (we have over 337 followers on twitter!)
AFC Didsbury: Rogers, Jaffray, Johnson, Battersby (C), Walker, Peat (Richardson) (New), Kilgour, Darlington, Vasko, García García, Menghini.
Goals: Menghini (3), Vasko Assists: García García, Vasko, Menghini, Richardson Man of the Match: Menghini
Didsbury Defiant Despite Defensive Wobbles
3 games, 3 wins. The fantastic start to the season for AFC Didsbury continued. The conditions were perfect for Sunday football; the morning dew shimmered in the sunlight and Gaz New was just finishing off his 12 pack of Cidre from Friday night’s team curry.
The game got off to a somewhat chaotic start with both teams failing to take control of the early possession. However, the deadlock was broken just before the ten minute mark when, out of nowhere, Albert’s tricky left winger was allowed to turn on the ball and run at the Didsbury defence. He managed to make some space for himself and got a shot away from outside the box, which squirmed under Wayne ‘yes mate’ Rogers’ outstretched arms.
The lead was to only last a short amount of time. After some intricate play in the centre of midfield the ball found its way to Jorge García García (‘Jorgey Boy’) who picked out Ross Menghini on the edge of the area and with his back to goal took a neat little touch with the outside of his right boot, which gave him the space to smash home with his left . Clinical. It was met with a rousing applause by the Didsbury faithful, bar Mr. Corbett!
With stand in manager Tom ‘Dalglish’ Whiteley dressed to the nines for his debut on the sideline, he began to wave his managerial hammer and sickle; pulling Rick Peat and Pete Kilgour off in the space of a few minutes for some words of wisdom. However, what happened in the next 15 minutes must have had Whiteley questioning the job he had agreed to take on. The defensive work was as messy as (by Tom’s account) Pavol Vasko’s toilet fiasco on Saturday morning. The home side scored two goals in quick succession, the third was a Ronaldinho cross-cum-shot which flew over Rogers’ flailing arms, no thanks down to the captain’s shout of encouragement “ahh he’s missed it” before the ball had reached the goal.
The home side began arguing amongst themselves, presumably about who had the most luscious beard. Their previously buoyant ship had begun to rock under the tension that was mounting. The two centre backs, Black Beard and Zat Knight, whose touch on the ball was almost as heavy as the somewhat rotund central midfielder, were starting to look vulnerable. Didsbury stepped it up a gear and with the new tactics employed by Daglish Jr, they were starting to have some joy on the flanks. Vasko, tinder’s most popular member, picked out Ross from the by-line who again managed to slot the ball passed Albert’s keeper. The equalising goal came shortly after with Rogers making amends for his previous flap by quickly gathering the ball from an Albert corner and hoofing it up field, where MOM Ross flicked the ball on skilfully (or luckily) to the on rushing Vasko, who complimented the assist with a neat finish.
Half time came about and words were exchanged about the shambolic Didsbury defending, but heads were held high after a fight back that equalled Istanbul and the growing discontent amongst the home team’s angry pirates. The away team knew they could not let this slip. The second half saw Didsbury return to the form which has seen them go unbeaten at the start of the season. They were on top for the majority of the second half and were still having joy out on the flanks, albeit helped by the fact that Peter Kay was playing at right back for Albert. The screw was beginning to turn and with Sam Richardson picking out the run of Ross with a perfectly weighted pass he was able to slot home and seal all three points for the travelling fans.
I just want to add a quick note to the end of this report. If any of the Albert lads are reading this, beards went out of fashion when Matty Harrison shaved his off #mattyfacts