Sunday 9 December 2012
Village's 2nd team finally claimed their first points of the season with a convincing 2-0 win over Eden Openshaw.
Having faced the top three teams five times in their opening eight fixtures, the chance to face another side in the bottom three for the first time was very welcome. However, the 1st team's shortage of players earlier in the day had knock-on effects for the 2nds, with James Wilson, James Hardern, Jeremy and Alexis all volunteering to play 90 minutes for the second time in five hours.
The early signs were good, with Jeremy, Alexis and James Nelson all showing good movement and putting pressure on the Openshaw defence. On 10 minutes a free kick from the right by Jeremy found its way to Wilson and his chest down landed perfectly for Nelson who drove the ball low into the net to give Manchester an early 1-0 lead.
Eden had some talented players in their team but seemed intent on either trying to run straight through the middle of the pitch or hitting long balls over the top of the Village defence, neither of which had any effect during a first half in which Matt had barely a save to make. Meanwhile, at the other end, a golden chance to consolidate the lead was presented when a defender needlessly pulled back Jeremy's shirt in the box. Under strict instructions "not to d*ck about with the penalty", the American duly obliged and drilled a firm shot off the inside of the post to make it 2-0.
The remainder of the first half was even, with both sides passing the ball well in midfield but unable to create a chance of significance.
Half time's instructions were to keep the effort up and to be aware of the continued threat of long balls over the top of the defence, which would now be more dangerous with the wind against Openshaw. Fortunately, the effort continued with the defence cutting out the majority of the Eden threat, leaving them reliant on set pieces.
Jeremy and Alexis both worked well in the right channel but with Manchester happy to commit less players forward it became more difficult to create chances. As the half wore on, Openshaw began to lose their discipline and a crude challenge on Pete as he raced away saw the referee go to his pocket for the first time. After Nelson was caught offside as he raced through unmarked, the only other noteworthy incident was Ryan somehow getting away with the most blatant of handballs in the Village 18 yard box. The referee, perhaps recovering from a splendid Alex Feis-Bryce mini-strop moments earlier, elected not to penalise the midfielder and Manchester closed out the game with the 2-0 lead still intact.
After coming so close to a point the previous week, this victory was exactly what the Village 2nd team required going in to the Christmas break. An extremely assured performance from the back four was matched by great movement and effort from the midfield and attack, resulting in a solid display that was fully deserving of three points.
With three of the final five games of the season against the other bottom three sides, Manchester now have the chance to push on in the new year and end the season on a high after what has been a very challenging first four months. Well done boys!