Sunday 24 November 2013
Village Manchester's second team emerged victorious from a muddy Wright Robinson pitch as they saw off AFC Stockport 3-1 at the weekend.
It was the first rematch of the season and the previous tie had resulted in a 2-2 draw after a couple of Village errors. Manager Matt Hall was at pains to stress that this was a tie Village should have gone into as favourites - however it took a call up to Danny Mullender and dragging Toland out of his bed (and boyfriend's arms) to put 11 on the pitch.
Hall made the most of having three centre backs with Favelas, Danny and McPherson forming the spine of the defence and McKerlie coming in for the injured Findlay. Village took to a natural surface for the first time this season. 'Natural surface' proved to be a somewhat misleading description of what was a proper Sunday morning pitch and Hall made it clear that the ball needed to be moved up the flanks before being slotted inside.
AFC Stockport started with the lion's share of the possession but failed to make good use of it with the ball getting stuck in the middle and their attacks breaking down against a resolute Village defence. Then as McKerlie and Dornan began to work the ball out up the flanks and Hall, Ryan Mullender and the impressive Feis-Bryce began to win possession in the middle, The Teds up front (Pete and David Edwards) began to see more of the ball with Pete's spectacular volley crashing against the bar from distance.
Pete went close again after cutting from the right following a fine pass up the line from Hall and this turned out to be a warning for the Stockport defence - a warning they failed to heed. A superb defence splitting pass from Feis-Bryce found its way through the centre halves and Pete Edwards did excellently to outpace his marker, round the keeper and slot home for a very stylish goal.
AFC Stockport did continue to see plenty of possession however and the defence and midfield had to be vigilant to ensure Village kept their lead with plenty of determined tackling in and around the 18 yard area keeping the opposition at bay. Village showed plenty of determination at the back and despite a succession of corners and pressure, little was being created by the opposition by way of clear cut chances and their lone striker was being kept firmly shackled by Favelas, Danny and McPherson.
Half time: AFC Stockport 0-1 VMFC2
At half time Matt stressed that the excellent work rate and team ethic had to continue and had to continue in spite of the heavy pitch and the numbers of subs the opposition had to call upon. Straightaway Village's cause was helped when a corner was floated over by Hall and, timing his run perfectly, Ryan rose unmarked to expertly head downwards and into the goal to give Village some much needed breathing space.
With the heavy pitch and lack of subs, it was inevitable that Village would tire somewhat and they came under sustained pressure with a succession of chances falling to the opposition. However they failed to convert any of these with the ball variously being blazed over or hitting the Village woodwork. There was a worthwhile claim for a penalty on their part after the ball hit Hall's outstretched arm but the referee waved play on. It was one attack too many however as a poor Village clearance found an AFC Stockport striker 25 yards out. The striker expertly beat one defender and angled a shot through another defender's dive with the ball agonisingly out of Toland's despairing reach.
The arrival of the dedicated Holmes gave Village some welcome respite as he replaced David Edwards after an excellent shift of chasing down balls to the corner. Straightaway Holmes proved to be more than the opposition's defence could cope with, outmuscling their centre halves and threatening whenever the ball got through to him. Eventually, as ever, his persistence told as Holmes was on top of the defence before they could clear their lines. He was first to a ball about 30 yards out but he covered ground quickly before expertly slotting past the keeper with his left foot to restore Village's two goal lead.
This knocked the remaining fight out of the opposition and Village were able to comfortably close out the final ten minutes of the match and secure their position in the top half of the table after this determined performance.
Full time: AFC Stockport 1-3 VMFC2