AFC Didsbury: Rogers, Mackie, Kendrick, Battersby (C), McDonald (Tauro), Agyeman (Wedl), Bishop, Menghini, Smith (New), Corbett, M Darlington.
GOALS: Agyeman, Menghini (2) ASSISTS: Mackie, Agyeman MAN OF THE MATCH: Mackie
Didsbury leave it late at Urmston
What a blockbuster. Urmston Town v. AFC Didsbury. A mouth-watering quarter-final tie in the prestigious J A Kennedy Cup. The anticipation was palpable and it was pleasing to see an opposition take the game seriously and warm up for a length of time similar to, if not longer than, us.
The first 15 minutes were a fairly scrappy affair with no side exerting their dominance. In fact it was pretty boring to play in, but you could sense that Didsbury would emerge victorious, much like Bruce Willis was always going to save the day in each Die Hard film or Liam Neeson would nail it in each of his career saving Taken films.
As the half progressed, Didsbury got their foot on the ball with more control and composure to dictate play. Chances were being created that were testing both the keeper and the referee's perception of the rulebook. First, Eugene Agyeman got in behind his man (loooool) to pull the ball back to Mike Corbett whose shot was saved on the line. A couple minutes later, on the other flank, Kieran Smith faced his full back up and laid the ball square to Corbett again who, via a bobble and the keeper, found Matt Darlington who finished well from close range. The real tragedy for the ref here was not that he disallowed it for offside citing the fairly generic and often erroneous reasons forwards think they are hearing, but that his decision would incite the wrath of Mr Darlington for the rest of the half at least. Kudos must go to Whiteley for the Kray's resemblance early on this season. Well done Whiteley, well done.
Despite this, the pressure finally tolled and Didsbury took a deserved lead when Agyeman, playing with great PACE & POWER, was left with too much space to play in in-behind his man and punished him (loool?!). An unmarked Matty Darlington was screaming for a cross and Agyeman duly lobbed the keeper "intentionally" from 35 yards or so. Justice.
This period of play came from Didsbury being more relaxed on the ball, taking greater care of it and making the right decisions. Decisions like how to deal with a long punt down field. It was neither the Sun nor his hair that got in his eyes but captain, John Battersby, managed to misjudge said long punt, which enabled Urmston to register an equaliser from a tidy finish. Up there with JB's own goal on YouTube or against Nello James in 101st minute, in a list of things no-one talks about for fear of having their wallet abused by the Finesmaster.
Before the game manager, Adam Musson, gave his characteristic inspiring speech. This included, in no particular order: how we beat Moss Side ONCE, that lower league sides like Urmston see AFCD as a higher power that they aspire to and raise their game against, and that AFCD DESERVE to be winning competitions because we are really nice guys. At half time, parts of this speech were repeated and we all hugged each other for 8 minutes. We then discussed how we should take our time, don't chase the game on the long pitch and get the ball to Kendo at centre back.
The second half was played in Urmston territory literally and physically. Chances were not clear cut, other than a delightful back heel from Darlington to Corbett who shot at the keeper. But it seemed inevitable that Didsbury would put together a move that would put them ahead. Decision making remained the issue and Musson knew what to do. Send Ross Menghini forward.
Within seconds of the change AFCD managed to get ahead as Menghini lobbed the keeper from the edge of the box following a teasing cross from the right not being finished by a Didsbury body nor cleared by Urmston.
This should've seen Didsbury home and dry but they sat deeper and deeper, inviting pressure onto them. Decisions were being made by all involved that beggared belief. Menghini went back into midfield, they started calling Chris Bishop a dirty so-and-so and Battersby misjudged ANOTHER ball before punching it clear to deny a clear goal scoring opportunity (another for JB's list of mind-blowing dumb stuff). It was a goal scoring opportunity but Battersby was reprieved with a yellow. Like the time the Moss Side keeper brought down Berte through on goal. It turned out to be a goal scoring opportunity similar to the one they actually scored from to cruelly, but deservingly, equalise with minutes remaining, from another long ball. Prior to this and resulting from Battersby's brainfart, Wayne Rogers pulled off a terrific save from the deflected, driven free-kick sticking out a stud when the ball seemed destined for the net. Impressively constructed nets they were too.
However, the issue with football is that it evokes disproportionate reactions that will ultimately come back to haunt you, either swiftly or in time. I need not bore you with my cringeworthy anecdotes of following Wiltshire's finest, and only, football league side. Yet, as you would do if you think you have dealt a telling blow, like (Game of Thrones spoiler) Oberyn celebrating his 'defeat' of the mountain in GoT, Urmston took their eye off the ball, let their defences drop and there were consequences.
Didsbury's immediate response came from our very own answer to Willis/Samuel. L, Gibson/Glover or even Smith/Lawrence who saved the civilised world by combining in the box to fire Didsbury into the semi-final: Menghini and Agyeman, the former following up the latter's parried shot. Cue sensible claps, many pats on backs and a huge sigh of relief - we didn't have to go to penalties against a lower league side again. Top work.
Actually, the game was like any generic action film in that the quality of the action was unbelievable but equally mediocre at best - it is Sunday league; the opening scenes were so utterly boring that you wanted to fast forward through it to the predictable ending, which obviously had the Didsbury hero saving everyone's blushes despite the tumultuous course of the game; ignores the important parts played by the small guys - Mackie was deserving of his Man of the Match yet I haven't mentioned him until now; and that reading the review of the game leaves you with the urge to punch the author.
That aside, Didsbury are in the semi's and the Menghini love-in rolls on for another week. Everything we wanted from the weekend, I suppose.
Rating: 2 out of 5.
Words by Mike Corbett
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