Sunday 15 December 2013
VMFC through to MCCL Cup semi-final
Village Manchester are through to the semi-finals of the Manchester City Central League Cup after they beat Real Mancs 6-4 on aggregate.
Village lost the second leg of the tie 3-2 but a 4-1 victory in the first leg was enough of a cushion to see them through.
Both clubs showed numerous changes for the second leg at Wright Robinson with Real Mancs looking like a new team as they tried to claw back the deficit from the first leg.
Village themselves boosted their squad with a number of fresh faces. Hardern, Connell, Reece and Clayton took their place in the staring line up alongside many of the regulars and Alex Wilson was amongst the substitutes for his farewell game.
Village knew that Real Mancs would come out all guns blazing to try and get themselves back into the tie and it was not long until the opposition got into their stride and looked dangerous.
It was Village however who had the game's first clear cut chance. Some good build up play saw the ball eventually end up at the feet of Clayton. The oldest player on the pitch struck the ball perfectly and it looked destined to end up in the back of the net. However, the Real Mancs keeper pulled off a stunning save to push the ball away from trouble.
Village were playing some good football and with the assured presence of Connell in the middle they looked for the killer ball that would put the team ahead and effectively kill off the game. They got in behind the full backs a number of times as well as Langford, Holmes and Reece showed skill and determination to get the ball in - unfortunately there always seemed to be an opposition player in the right place at the wrong time for Village.
Midway through the first half Real Mancs found the back of the net to open the scoring. An opposition attacker bore down towards the defence and managed to get a shot away. The shot, which was already on target, got a nick off McPherson's thigh and this touch ensured that Baker had little chance. 1-0
This goal saw the eyes of the Real Mancs players light up and they soon doubled their lead. An attacker found himself near the corner of the box with very little on. Hall did the right thing by not letting the winger come inside but the Real Mancs player pushed the ball on and unleashed a venomous shot towards goal with his left foot. The pace of the shot was just too good and Baker was unable to get a hand to it to keep it out. 2-0
With the deficit reduced to one it was important that Village kept it steady for a while. And keep it steady they did as they kept Real Mancs at bay and looked dangerous at times themselves.
The half time whistle soon blew with the tie delicately poised.
Half time: Real Mancs FC 2-0 VMFC2 (VMFC lead 4-3 on aggregate)
Village knew that they needed to up their game and with the experience that was in the squad there was confidence that this would happen.
Despite some players contending with the hangover from the Christmas do in Blackpool the previous night, Village held their own and kept the Real Mancs defence on their toes.
With the Village defence playing quite deep, play began to get a bit disjointed and Real Mancs started to up the pressure.
This pressure soon paid off as they grabbed their third of the evening to level the tie. A through ball saw keeper Baker and a Real Mancs attacker get to the ball at the same time. Baker did get a touch on the ball but the momentum of the opposition attacker meant that the ball came loose. The Real Mancs player took control of the ball and kept his composure as he slotted past McPherson's last ditch dive on the line. 3-0
They almost added a fourth not long after as a shot from 20 yards out rattled Baker's left hand post.
This close call and levelling of the tie seemed to be the kick up the backside that Village needed. A few minutes after their post had been struck, Village went up to the other end of the pitch, got a goal back and took control of the tie again. Tireless work in the middle and down the side saw the ball end up at the feet of Langford. The club's top goal scorer made no mistake as he rifled in a shot that left the keeper with no chance. 3-1
This goal was a sucker punch for the opposition and you could visibly see their heads drop. Village managed to take advantage of this by getting their second of the game and effectively killing off the tie. Village won a corner on the right and Reece delivered a splendid ball to the back post. With the ball clearing the Real Mancs defence it was left to McPherson, who ghosted in unmarked, to bullet in a header that went in between the defender on the post and the keeper's despairing dive. 3-2
In between all of this, Village nearly got another goal as they had an attempt cleared off the line. Village's initial attempt saw the ball roll across the goal line with Holmes steaming in to add the finishing touch. However, an amazing last ditch tackle saw the Real Mancs defender clear as he took the ball off the striker's toe.
With the team having regained a bit of a cushion in the game it would take something extraordinary for them to be eliminated. Real Mancs did threaten, especially from a couple of free kicks clumsily given away by McPherson, but Baker and the rest of the team comfortably saw out the rest of the game.
Despite the result not being what the team had hoped for, the fact that the team are through to the semi-finals is the main thing to take from the game.
The game also saw Alex Wilson's last appearance for the club before he moves to South Wales. The Scouser has been a dedicated player for both the first and second teams over the past couple of years and his determination, energy, skill and personality will be missed. The club would like to wish him all the best and we look forward to seeing him in the near future.
Full time: Real Mancs FC 3-2 VMFC2 (VMFC win 6-4 on aggregate)