Stretford Victoria 1
AFC Didsbury 4
GOALS: Lee, Whiteley, Menghini (2)
ASSISTS: Kilgour (3), Lee
MAN OF THE MATCH: Rogers
Didsbury Finally Victorious Over Vics
Consecutive defeats to Hulme and Fallowfield have really burst our #onenilday bubble in recent weeks. This, coupled with our general record against Sunday’s opponents Stretford Victoria (in short, we’ve never beaten them), did not augur well.
Our squad arrived numerically depleted, but high in spirits. Despite heavy rainfall, the Turn Moss pitch was pleasingly playable: Jorge García García took off his scrum hat, removed his gum shield and declared the pitch acceptable for association football. Manager Adam Musson, inspired by England’s emphatic demolition of Lithuania, set up his team in a 4-3-3 formation, with Tom Whiteley as captain. As an entirely unrelated aside, the England football team was once captained by Gareth Barry, so far was the barrel of leadership talent scraped. Lastly, as is traditional in Sunday league, a large pile of canine excrement was spotted just before kick off. Left back Ben Jaffray was offered the opportunity, nay honour, of removing said faeces, but politely declined. And so, the scene was fully set for a memorable fixture.
Stretford Victoria had the better of the opening minutes. Keeping the ball well at the back, and playing through midfield to their powerful strike force, it was clear that Didsbury would have to defend well to get any kind of result. A succession of pot shots were tipped around the post by Wayne Rogers, and a series of corners headed away. Didsbury were limited to a few forays into their opponents half, without the necessary quality to calve out an opening. The first big chance came as Ross was fouled when turning his man just outside the Area. Pete Kilgour took charge and clipped an inviting ball to the back post, where it was met by the boot of Gareth Lee. It was almost straight at the goalkeeper, but he could not react quickly enough, and could only divert it into the corner.
Didsbury’s lead was barely deserved at this point, with Stretford Victoria continuing to dominate possession. The back four, and in particular Paul Johnson and Jonny Mackie, were resolute and courageous in defence. In front of them, the midfield three of captain Whiteley, Garcia Garcia and Lloyd Darlington, worked tirelessly to break up attacks where possible. The last line of defence, Wayne Rogers, made several more saves, and ensured that we reached half time 1-0 up.
The second half was an entirely different affair. Against a mobile front line, Didsbury chose to sit deep, confident in the defensive shape, and their ability to break dangerously. Quick, accurate passing to feet, and clever movement from the lone striker Ross Menghini meant that whenever Didsbury won the ball, we looked a threat.
Gathering the ball near the corner flag, Lee skipped past a few players along the by-line, and pulled the ball back to the arriving Whiteley, who struck cleanly into the corner for Didsbury’s second. Stretford Vics replied almost instantly with a goal their play had truly deserved. Their striker picked the ball up on the edge of the area, and finished well into the far corner giving Rogers no chance. With their tails up, Stretford Vics sent more men forward, and more brave defending was needed. Jonno, Liam Hadfield and Mackie turned the sliding tackle into an art form, and the latter took a hefty knock for his troubles.
With numbers committed, Didsbury knew that a swift counter could end the game. Kilgour played the ball into Lee, received the ball on the overlap and slid an early ball into the area. Menghini had been chasing 50-50s all game, but this time his running paid dividends. He met Kilgour’s cross with a slick first time finish, and made it 3-1. Not long after the same combination repeated the trick. Kilgour slid a delightful ball between the centre half and full back, onto which strode Ross, who rounded the goalkeeper and found the empty net. In truth, 4-1 was ill-deserved for a Stretford Vics side who played some very decent football, and did not give up. But Didsbury were clinical today. Three assists for Kilgour and two goals for Ross will steal the headlines, but the back five of Rogers, Jaffray, Jonno, Mackie and Hadfield, along with the double pivot of Whiteley and Darlington, deserve the lion’s share of credit.
Prior to this season, AFC Didsbury had beaten neither Moss Side nor Stretford Victoria in their history. Just like when Gareth Barry captained England, I bet skipper Whiteley can't believe his luck to have lead his side to such an historic victory.
Words by Gareth Lee
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