Sunday 3 November 2013
Village Manchester's first team lost their unbeaten record at the weekend as they went down 5-1 against reigning champions South Manchester at the Armitage.
The team were forced into a few changes as the central midfield pair of Connell and Alex Wilson were absent and Hardern was unavailable. McAuley replaced Harden at left back, Carter and Langford moved to central midfield and Holmes and Panos made their first starts.
Despite being the only team in the league not to have tasted defeat so far this season, Village knew they would be in for a tough battle against a team who have shown their prowess in recent seasons. Their league triumph last season, where they won the league by six points, exemplified the danger that they possess and Village would need to be on top form to get a result from the tie.
With the calendar flicking to November, it was no surprise to see the rain strike with a vengeance. After a quick pitch inspection from the manager, the game got underway with the rain falling almost horizontality and the wind adding the extra chill factor. For the supporters and substitutes (Parkin and Orrock) on the side-lines, they were hoping that Village's football would keep them warm.
And Village did start the brighter of the two teams. Despite the wet and slippery conditions, the team were passing the ball around with confidence and looking dangerous. Golds and Holmes, playing up front together for the first time, were working well as a pair and their energy meant that the South Manchester defence had to be on their toes. And on their toes they were as they managed to catch the Village strikeforce offside a number of times.
The first chance of the game fell to the opposition as their number 7 managed to twist past McAuley. Baker was alive to the danger however as he came out and smothered the ball.
The majority of the chances in the first half went to Village though as they perhaps edged the first 45 minutes. McAuley's shot from a cleared corner was blocked on the edge of the box with 10 minutes gone and Holmes' flick on 15 minutes was just out of Golds' reach. Golds did have the ball in the back of the net a few minutes later but his effort was correctly ruled out for offside.
Langford and Panos both had efforts from outside the box but the former shot just wide and the latter's attempt was deflected into the keeper's grasp.
Village looked dangerous and Baker's long kicks - inspired by Asmir Begovic's goal the previous day - often caused trouble. It was South Manchester who finished the half stronger though as their number 10 steered a cross wide on the half hour mark and, with five minutes remaining of the half, they really should have taken the lead but their striker weakly hit a well worked build up into Baker's arms.
Half time: South Manchester 0-0 VMFC1
With Village just edging the first half it was imperative that they made this advantage pay. The second half however was one to forget.
With 50 minutes on the clock, Carter got disposed of the ball in his own half by a South Manchester attacker. The attacker's initial effort was comfortable for Baker but the wet ball slipped out of the keeper's hands back to the attacker's feet. The striker rounded Baker but as he was about to shoot the American pulled him down - thus giving away a penalty.
The keeper was lucky to escape any kind of card from the erratic official and it looked like his luck was continuing as he saved the initial effort from the spot. Unfortunately his luck ran out as the penalty taker tucked home the rebound. 1-0
Things went from bad to worse as South Manchester doubled their lead almost immediately. The opposition's number 10 wasn't closed down quick enough and he unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top right of the goal. 2-0
Village could tell things were not going to go their way as the referee bizarrely denied the team an obvious corner. The ball could be seen (and heard!) to have rebounded off a South Manchester defender but as the referee pointed for a goal kick, Village's bafflement was epitomised with the 'colourful' language from Village's secretary Andy Bates.
Perhaps buoyed by this decision, South Manchester grabbed their third as a striker took advantage of a rare Ure mistake to poke home. 3-0
Village replied immediately as a splendid ball in from Reece found Carter in the box. A clever turn and shot saw the ball fly past the keeper and Village could sense a comeback was on the cards. 3-1
The comeback was snuffed out within two minutes though as the opposition took advantage of another mistake. Baker, who was to the left hand side of his box, miskicked a clearance and the ball fell to a South Manchester player about 30 yards out. With an open goal to aim at the willing recipient made no mistake. 4-1
South Manchester rounded off a poor half for Village by grabbing their fifth and final goal with five minutes left. A clever cross from the right found a South Manchester player at the far end of the six yard box. The player cushioned his header back towards the opposite post and saw his effort nestle in the back of the net. 5-1
As the sun finally decided to make an appearance the full time whistle went. Village will wonder how they managed to go from being the better team with an encouraging performance at half time to letting five goals and losing their unbeaten record by full time. In truth, it was South Manchester's ability to punish mistakes - whether weather induced or not - that was the difference.
The result should not distract from the impressive form that the team has been in so far and they will be chomping at the bit to get back to winning ways.
And next up for the team is Sporting Manchester who they play on 10 November.
Full time: South Manchester 5-1 VMFC1
Mace 2 - 1 Sporting Manchester
Miam Miam Celtic 3 - 1 Saints