AFC Didsbury were left frustrated against Stretford Victoria on a controversial morning at Turn Moss, that finished two goals apiece.
Three penalties were awarded throughout a game dictated by the erratic weather conditions, more than any individual’s industry or creativity.
Rick Peat missed the best chance of the first half, creeping up at the back post with a volley that just missed the target, while Stretford failed to threaten in the opening stages.
It was Stretford that drew first blood though and totally against the run of play. After twenty minutes of intense Didsbury pressure, Stretford made a quick break that looked as though it carried no threat. A lofted ball switched play from the right flank to the left and Stretford’s incoming winger swung an opportunistic left boot. The ball rolled off his shin and just beat the grasp of Didsbury keeper, Gary Brookes, nestling in the far corner.
Didsbury reformed and mounted multiple attacks straight from the restart, with McDonald, Harrrison, Corbett and Peat all causing Streford’s backline problems. Parity was eventually restored and Didsbury got the goal that their efforts deserved. After some great build up play, Corbett found himself with an opportunity to round the keeper but was denied by the latters clumsy, flailing arms. Mike Corbett’s penalty was too powerful and precise for Stretford’s keeper, emphatically finding the bottom-left corner for his second goal of the season.
The second half carried on very much in the same vein as the first, with Didsbury carving out chance after chance. Wing play was key on a day when the middle of the park was virtually unplayable. The pace and trickery of McDonald and Peat proved too much for Stretford’s full backs as they struggled to cut off Didsbury’s supply. Despite this, it was to be from a Ben Jaffray free-kick that Didsbury went ahead. Lofted towards the head of the ever-menacing Matt Harrison, Didsbury captain, John Battersby, latched onto the flick and was acrimoniously bundled over in the Stretford area. Up stepped Corbett to coolly send the keeper the wrong way and give Didsbury the advantage they so deserved.
A disallowed goal and chances for Harrison, McDonald, Whitely, Peat and substitute Mike Hay passed. Didsbury’s dominance remained precariously poised, with such a slender scoreline.
Stretford’s only threat, throughout the game, came from set pieces as the solidity of Didsbury’s backline (Mackie, Battersby, Jaffray and Man of the Match, Jon Turner) could not be breached. The nature of the equalising goal will leave a sour taste in Didsbury mouths though, as it came about in debatable fashion. Stretford delivered a set-piece into a crowded Didsbury area and the referee somehow spotted a foul-play. Stretford converted the resulting penalty to set up a tense final few minutes.
Chances were few and far between in the closing stages. Only a few heated moments, between both sets of players, providing any drama on the pitch.
Ultimately, it was Didsbury that came away from this game disappointed. The performance was dominant and epitomised by the workmanship of midfield general, Neil Creasey. Nevertheless, this will be seen as two points dropped, rather than one point gained.