Sunday 12 January 2014
Village Manchester’s Second team began 2014 with their reverse fixture against Everything You Need FC. Having won the previous tie Matt was hopeful about doing the double over the opposition and named a strong, attack minded squad with a healthy sprinkling of first team regulars, a recall for Village stalwart Alex Kirkham and bows for debutants Paul Freeland and Joey Aleixo.
Village got off to a lively start and immediately looked dangerous with Jordan looking lively on the right and Steven Clayton pulling the strings in midfield. Jordan made the byline with a series of runs which Steven Holmes narrowly failed to connect with before he drifted towards the centre and picked up a ball from the left following some good work from James Hardern, Panos and Steve Clayton.
After beating his man he found the ball on his less favoured left foot but made no mistake, volleying on the bounce and watching his shot bounce awkwardly across and over the keeper before landing in the corner of the net. Village continued to apply pressure and a delightful one-two between Clayton and Langford, followed by a perfectful weighted pass to Steve Holmes and a Holmes shoulder drop almost led to a second but Steve was left to watch his shot drift agonisingly wide of the upright.
At this Matt made changes and brought Al Kirkham on to lead the line in place of Steve Holmes and Joey Aleixo on for himself. Further changes followed with Ash Jones coming on in place of Panos and switching flanks with Jordan and Paul Freeland coming on in place of Clayton. This seemed to disrupt Village’s rhythm and the other side began to gradually come back into the game and into the Village penalty box on a few occasions, one of which drew a smart save from Jeremy who watched the ball canon over the bar off his legs.
With the opposition’s playmaking midfielder and strong centre forward posing more of a threat, they eventually carved out a chance with the forward pushing ahead of Rob McPherson and despite valiant attempts at making up the ground, Rob’s header back to Jeremy didn’t have the power and dropped in front of the striker who promptly said ‘thank you very much’ and slotted it into the bottom right corner of Jeremy’s net.
At half time Matt was clear that whatever had happened at the start of the first half needed to happen again and told the team that they looked for all the world that a team that was suffering from the post Christmas blues. Too many mistakes and too many poor decisions were being made and that if we were going to win they needed to be cut out.
Half time: Everything You Need FC 1-1 VMFC2
The second half began shakily with an early run from EYN resulting in a shot just going wide of the goal but the game soon descended into stalemate with neither EYN or Village’s midfield able to get a foot on the ball or enjoy prolonged spells of pressure. Not even the reintroduction of Steve Clayton or Steve Holmes was enough for Village to seize control of the game although the defence looked more than capable of containing EYN’s attack with James Stevens looking assured in the centre and Joey and James Hardern both having solid games on their respective flanks. The only danger coming on two occasions with the EYN forward seeming determined to upstage the gays with some diva-esque behavior in the form of an impressive swan dive over Jeremy’s onrushing challenge and the form of a dying swan following a clash of boots with James Stevens.
With 20 minutes to go and things simply not falling into place up front, Matt decided to deliver a late Christmas present to James Hardern, taking his place at left back and pushing James up front as a second striker along side Alex. His workrate culminated in more Village pressure but both sides seemed determined to crowd the opposition out of their goalmouths and the game finished 1-1 with Village left scratching their heads about how they hadn’t managed to make their superior qualities tell.
Full time: Everything You Need FC 1-1 VMFC2