Sunday 9 February 2014
Village’s Second team’s reward for overcoming Real Mancs in the last round of the MCCL Division 2 Cup was a tough tie against Audenshaw FC who had inflicted the heaviest defeat since Matt had taken the team’s reins, beating them 9-1 earlier in the season.
Jason had clearly been lavishing plenty of affection on Simon lately as the first team found its game called off due to weather so vicious and vile it could have passed for a Steve Clayton facebook comment. With Rob and Pete Edwards enjoying London for the weekend (Let’s hope their nocturnal activities aren’t what led to it being submerged) Matt was able to call upon Jez Ure and Sam Connell to fill in at centre half with James Stevens assuming duties at right back and Alex Feis-Bryce gallantly taking up the left back role (despite another broken Matt promise of the number 10 position!).
Ryan Mullender took up his familiar role in the middle with first team captain, Jay McNaught alongside him and Panos Papademtriou and Jordan Langford taking up their usual positions on the flanks. With Paul Carter being a late addition to the side, Steven was able to enjoy having a partner up front for a change.
The match started at a lively pace with Village instantly showing they were determined to not just avoid another crushing defeat but achieve Matt’s target of being the first team in the league to get a result against one of the top three. Jordan and Panos especially began to cause problems down each wing with both players having efforts flash narrowly wide.
Village were also causing problems through the middle with Ryan and Jay’s work rate and the presence of two strikers up front proving telling in keeping the opposition under pressure. Eventually this pressure told when Steven sprang up to volley home the first goal after a defensive melee from another fine ball into the area from out wide.
Audenshaw definitely carried a threat though and threatened to counter several times but Sam and Jez were looking solid through the middle and James and Alex were largely tying up their wingers and when breaks were threatened someone was on hand to cover. Audenshaw were handed a lucky break however when Jeremy uncharacteristically misjudged the amount of time he had to clear his lines after Sam had played the ball back to him. His clearance hit the opposing striker who reacted quickest racing past Jeremy to slot into an empty net for the equalizer.
This encouraged Audenshaw who soon added a second when they beat the offside trap and the winger managed to round his marker and Jeremy to slot home. A third was almost added when Audenshaw broke on the right but Sam was on hand to slide in with what was, in all likelihood, a goal saving tackle.
After going behind when having been in front, there was a disappointed look to a lot of people’s faces on coming off but Matt was determined to keep things upbeat and with Sam and Jez, pointed out how much better the performance was than the last time Village came up against Audenshaw. Matt’s instructions were that to get back into the game we had to get back to what we had been doing to begin with which was getting it wide, running at the opposition, passing it short and resisting the temptation to send it long for the wingers and strikers to chase.
Half time: Audenshaw FC 2-1 VMFC2
After the break Village found themselves under pressure once more but the defence held firm with Sam and Jez coping well with the high balls Audenshaw had begun to favour. Jeremy was called into action early on in the half however producing a miraculous instinctive save from close range.
It was now Village’s turn to threaten on the counter with Alex and Panos combining to good effect. Once the ball arrived at his feet the man from Cyprus was consistently going past his marker and drifting inside to find space between the lines. Eventually this paid dividends with a fierce (girlfriend!) drive into the top corner. The ball bounced between the crossbar and the ground for what seemed like an eternity but there was no need for hawkeye and it was clear to all concerned that Village were back in it.
Fatigue certainly played a part in Audenshaw’s swift restoration of their lead however and they took advantage of Village’s bare eleven with their striker rounding players in the box to create space before slamming the ball past a helpless Jeremy. Village kept their nerve and did not panic however and Panos continued to press up the left wing and in a move reminiscent of his first goal, cut inside to draw a brilliant save from the Audenshaw keeper and it seemed this was not going to be Village’s night.
That was until yet another run up the left resulted in a free kick that was clearly Jordan territory. With seconds left on the clock the captain for the day stepped up and proved why he is the man for the big occasion sweeping a sensational free kick over the wall and into the top left corner of the goal to send the tie to penalties and Village into ecstasy.
Second half: Audenshaw FC 3-3 VMFC2
Matt picked his penalty takers with Jordan and Jeremy, as ever, going 1-2, Panos going third, Steve Holmes going fourth and Jay McNaught courageously (read insanely) going fifth.
Watch the (iPhone!) video of the penalties on our Facebook page here.