Goals: Vasko, Corbett, Corcoran Assists: Leighton, Vasko, Whiteley Man of the Match: McDonald
Didsbury call yet another halt on Juniors' Season to secure 3rd place.
Following a flawless 2-0 victory to reach the John Old Cup Final, Didsbury displayed attacking fluency and defensive resilience to outplay Halton Juniors for a second time in a week.
Prior to kick-off, the mood was somewhat marred by an unforgiveable action from one individual; the referee. To establish himself as centre of attention on the centre spot, the ref attempted to show-off a ‘never-before-practiced’ piece of skill that a dying swan from San Marino with two webbed left feet could have better produced. Luckily, Didsbury remained unaffected - though a minute’s silence will take place next week.
It was Didsbury who sent out the first warning. Breaking swiftly down the right flank, John Corcoran played a quick low ball across the 6 yard box, only for it to be tickled by the studs of an outstretched Mike Corbett.
Encouraging signs were instantly followed by a break-through. The 10th minute bore witness to a quality and direct move from the away side. Initiated from a route one kick from the “soon to be insured for a significant amount, following some incredible skill during the warm-up” feet of goalkeeper, James Leighton, was well flicked on by Corbett into the path of an alert Pavol Vasko - who exhibited quality and composure to expertly loop over the keeper. 1-0 Didsbury.
The second goal soon followed. A pin-point cross field ball from tireless winger and new recruit, Guy Walker, found the ever-present Vasko who generously returned the favour with a composed assisted header across goal for Robin Van Corbett to accurately slot into the bottom corner. 2-0 Didsbury.
Didsbury decided to introduce fresh legs for the second half. Like for like substitutions included Johnson on for Battersby and... Rogers… to… replace… Corbett??? Rogers was able to dismiss any doubters, rendering his transition from centre-back to centre-forward as seamless by his presence and energy alone - like a somewhat smaller Christopher Samba.
Prior to the second half KO, the mood was once again marred by an unforgiveable action from one individual… the referee. On this occasion, he deemed that his ‘terminal swan-like-skill’ was better practiced (it wasn’t) and actually appropriate to form part of the kick-off (it wasn’t). An inquiry will soon take place.
Halton Juniors started the second half with speed and intent and decided to issue an early warning by whipping in a cross only for the ball to bounce awkwardly and hit the crossbar - to the relief of a routed Jimmy Leighton.
Didsbury fought back and continued to show exactly why they hold the strongest backline in the Mikey Williams Premiership. Halton continued to probe but failed to penetrate for much of the second half, with tireless performances from Jonathan Mackie and Tom Whitely in the midfield centre to ensure that the backline were protected throughout.
With one eye on the approaching cup final, manager Adam Musson was eager to come away from this fixture without an injury to any squad member. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. As a strong and persistent Vasko managed to get his body in between his marker and the ball, as he often does so routinely well, the versatile winger was knocked off balance only to land awkwardly on his shoulder. Luckily though, Corbett was able achieve his second assist of the day - driving Vasko to A&E. Every cloud. AFC Didsbury wish Pav a swift and speedy recovery and pray he will be available for the cup final #Pray4Pav. Jonny Owen replaces the injured Vasko.
Throughout the second half, Didsbury posed a real threat and continued to demonstrate their attacking intent - including numerous shots from Wayne Samba Rogers Christopher and a first-time pin-ball shot from Corcoran - which seemed to hit the bar, then the post, then the keeper, then the post, then the bar and then caught by the keeper. Corcoran’s supportive Dad said it didn’t go in. Corcoran disagrees.
Didsbury were to concede in the final 5 minutes. A trailing leg combined with a fancy bit of skill resulted in a Halton Juniors penalty. This was dispatched by veteran Mr Halton himself, resulting in quite a funny pile-on by the opposing players. I hope he’s okay… 2-1 Didsbury.
Any anxiety from the penalty was instantly addressed by a speediest of AFC Didsbury counter-attacks (approximately 17mph) that consisted of some neat feet from Whiteley, to then square the ball to Corcoran, who wrong footed the keeper to dispatch into the bottom right corner. 3-1 Didsbury.
This was a real team performance and a superb victory for AFC Didsbury. Confidence is high and the club continues to improve. In the words of Robbie Nelson Mandela Savage (sorry), “Momentum is a hugely powerful weapon in the face of the opponent.” Didsbury must really focus on continuing this momentum for their penultimate league game against Stretford Victoria on Wednesday.