Joshua Brooks 0
AFC Didsbury 3
Goals: García García, Corbett, Darlington
Assists: Corbett, García García, Lee
Man of the Match: Corbett
"I never comment on referees and I'm not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat."Big Ron Atkinson
On the back of a disappointing November in which Didsbury were twice eliminated from cup competitions on penalties, a league fixture against bottom club Joshua Brooks seemed the ideal tonic for a team looking to re-discover their early season form and end the successful 2014 year on a high.
Returning to his old club, Didsbury new boy Ross Menghini might have been expecting a red hot reception. He needn’t have worried as the freezing conditions and intermittent hail storms meant that not only did the Joshua Brooks supporters stay away, so too had most of the playing squad as the home team were barely able to scrape together a starting eleven.
Manager Adam Musson was missing for the fixture owing to his traditional yuletide visit to Santacon in London (google it!!). Rumours that he was employed for the day as one of the little helpers are unconfirmed at this stage. Credit must go to Didsbury super-fan and stand in manager for the day, Janet Pilkington, who braved the cold as the only witness to this absolute turkey of a match.
Turning to the action, Didsbury started the game in a lively fashion, creating a number of half chances by looking to utilise their pace on the flanks and exploit the extremely suspect Joshua Brooks fullbacks. The opening goal arrived midway through the first half when prolific goal scorer Mike Corbett turned provider, his tempting cross from the right flank was met by the impressive Jorge Garcia-Garcia who found the net with a precise header.
As has so often been the case this season, the tendency of the Didsbury defence to overplay at the back led to mistakes and it was only the wastefulness of the Joshua Brooks forwards that let Didsbury off the hook. Goalkeeper Wayne Rogers was only once troubled in the 1st half, saving very smartly at his front post to a well struck attempt from outside the area by the home side.
The half time whistle gave Didsbury the chance to introduce some fresh legs and once again the away side started the half brightly. Didsbury soon doubled their lead when Garcia- Garcia’s pass found Corbett at the edge of the area, who finished superbly from a tight angle with a shot high into the top left corner of the goal.
With a two goal cushion, Didsbury were in complete control of the game and began to create numerous openings. The game was livened up considerably when Didsbury defender Ben Jaffray was on the receiving end of a dangerous and some would say cowardly challenge from his opposing number. Captain John Battersby was quiche to jump to the defence of his teammate and made it abundantly clear that the young scamp would not be on his Christmas card list this year. From the resulting melee, Battersby and the offending player were both dismissed as both sides were reduced to 10 men. The Didsbury captain made sure the referee was fully aware of his disapproval for the decision and almost landed himself in further trouble with his protests. He can expect a call from the FA this week.
This tear up seemed to give the home team a much needed wake up call and they finally began to ask questions of the Didsbury defence and commit men forward. From one of these attacks, a hopeful ball was played into the box and centre-back Colin McDonald was very harshly judged to have fouled the Joshua Brooks striker leading to a penalty being awarded. For once, the spot kick gods looked favourably on Didsbury and the attempt was blazed wildly over the bar.
Didsbury made the most of this reprieve by immediately going on the attack and finding the killer 3rd goal. Once again the chance was fashioned down the right hand side as winger Gaz Lee found the onrushing Lloyd Darlington with a neat pull back which Darlington calmly slotted into the bottom left corner of the net.
This was not a classic Didsbury performance by any means. The conditions and the lacklustre opposition meant that this was a day where all that mattered was the 3 points. On the bright side, only the second clean sheet of the season ought to give the recently shaky defence some much needed confidence and with a win against Stretford Victoria on Sunday, Didsbury could go into 2015 in second place in the league where tougher challenges await.
Words by Ben Jaffray