Atletico Chorlton 2 - 3 AFC Didsbury
AFC Didsbury: Leonard, Musson, Johnson, Battersby, New, Cowley (Harrison 55), Creasey, McDonald, Corbett, MacHugh, Gillon
Goals: Johnson, Creasey, Harrison
Assists: McDonald (2)
Man of the Match: McDonald
All the pre-season training and friendlies have been negotiated, the desperate Saturday night carbo loading has taken place and now the talking stops and the hard work begins…
AFC Didsbury kicked off their season noticeably leaner from a punishing pre-season regime designed to prepare them for the significant increase in opposition strength following their promotion to the MASFL Division One.
Being drawn against a team that finished 2nd bottom last season might have seemed like a fortuitous draw but the pervading feeling in the camp before the game was that this would be a tough test.
As the first half began so it proved, as AFC Didsbury controlled possession without making many meaningful incursions into the Chorlton final third during the first 30 minutes. Just after the half hour, Chorlton scored against the run of play when a speculative left foot drive form outside the box left AFC Didsbury ‘keeper Antony Leonard a spectator. For a highly competent defensive unit that only conceded 32 goals last season, the space afforded to the goalscorer was regrettable but no doubt just a result of early season rustiness. Fittingly, elder statesmen of that defence, Paul Johnson, levelled the scores with a towering near-post header after fine work on the left wing from Colin McDonald, who provided a sublime pinpoint cross with the outside of his left boot.
Either side of the interval, Didsbury continued to dominate proceedings, but seemed unable to get enough bodies up front to trouble the opposition goal. Winger Kieran MacHugh showed he was willing to put his head where others may not, getting a thundering blow to the head from a stray Chorlton boot. His suffering was not in vain as Neil Creasey curled a delicious free-kick in from just outside the box.
With time diminishing and Chorlton committing more bodies forward a left-wing cross from Colin found Matt Harrison in space in the area and he showed no mercy dispatching a right foot thunderbolt past a despairing goalkeeper. With minutes to go, and Didsbury down to ten-men due to a potentially season ending injury to Andy Gillon, Chorlton grabbed themselves an unlikely second but Didsbury held on for a maiden win that will give great confidence for the season ahead.
Words by Ollie Quaye