Moss Side 3 - 1 AFC Didsbury
AFC Didsbury: Leighton, Musson, Stiff, Bishop (C), McDonald, Schmidt (Trecarichi), Saxon, Creasey, Harrison, Berté, MacHugh (Connolly).
Man of the Match: Bishop
Rolling Stones Gather No Moss
With Premiership survival now guaranteed, AFC Didsbury were looking to upset the balance of the MASFL pyramid by beating the dominant force of Moss Side Old House in a league fixture - a feat reported to be last achieved by another MASFL team over 10 seasons ago.
Early possession was used well by Didbsury, who carved openings
on a couple of occasions but failed to really test the Moss Side
A swirling north-westerly wind meant headaches for defensive lines, and makeshift Didsbury centre-back duo, Mike Stiff and Chris Bishop, were kept on their toes by their pacey opponents. Didsbury looked to be weathering the worst of it, with the gangly playmaker Luke Berté providing the outlet more often than not.
The pressure told after 25 minutes however, with the Moss Side front pair combining with a neat flick-on and diagonal run. The no.10 was bearing down on goal when a last-ditch lunge brought him crashing to the ground. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot, murmurings in the crowd rightly questioning the decision to allow the centre back to continue his endeavours un-carded.
A decisive penalty ensued, and Didsbury's confidence took a visible knock as they contemplated trying to get back in the tie.
As the first half wore-on, Moss Side began turning the screw, with attackers down both wings starting to smell blood. A second Moss Side penalty was awarded when left-back Colin McDonald appeared to handle the ball as he tussled with his opponent in the area. Visibly aggrieved at the decision, McDonald promptly removed his shirt and stormed toward the changing rooms before being dissuaded of leaving by his team mates. He returned to the pitch just in time to see the second penalty despatched as confidently as the first;
2-0 at the break.
The wind was literally in Moss Side's sails in a second half, which saw Didsbury struggle to hold possession and the home side bagged a third goal from a lofted ball in behind the Didsbury back-line. The Moss Side captain and no. 9 finding room to set-up his colleague for a precise header. Although Didsbury keeper James Leighton pulled-off a string of fine saves throughout the game, he could only watch as this effort nestled inside his right-hand post.
The Didsbury forwards, particularly Berté and Kieran MacHugh, continued to work tirelessly, and on another day may have been luckier with some tight offside decisions. With 15 minutes left on the clock, a perfectly-timed run and deftly-lobbed finish from substitute Paul Trecarichi, gave the the away side a glimmer of hope; although you always felt Moss Side had another gear they could use if needs be.
3-1 the result and Moss Side’s reign continues. AFC Didsbury do get another bite at the cherry before the season's end; they'll need to improve on this performance if they hope for a sunnier Sunday morning.
Words by Matt Harrison