Sunday 2 March 2014
Village Manchester produced a poor performance on an even poorer pitch as they went down 3-1 to Lawds at the University pitches.
Manager McAuley, who was starting in goal, produced a few surprises in his team selection as he gave starts to Hindley and Ackerley – the latter of whom was making his debut. Edwards retained his place in defence as McAuley set his team up with a 3-5-2 formation in the hope of taking advantage of the big pitch. Aleixo and Holmes warmed the bench.
The game got off to an awful start as Village were 1-0 down within five minutes - thanks to a goal from the penalty spot. The referee awarded an extremely dubious spot kick to Lawds after Wilson was adjudged to have handled Hardern’s clearance. The fact that Wilson was standing barely two yards from Hardern and had his hands in close to his body seemed to bypass the ref. As it was, Lawds took advantage of this gift as the penalty taker crashed the ball in off McAuley’s right hand post. 1-0
Lawds almost doubled their advantage a couple of minutes later as an opposition player ghosted in at the back post unmarked from a corner. His range was off however and he could only put the ball wide.
On the quarter hour mark, Village finally started to get going. Ure hit a nice ball down the right for Golds to run on to. The winger did well to get to the ball before it went out and he delivered a great ball to the back post where he found Ackerley. At a difficult angle for a shot, the debut boy laid the ball off for Connell, who despite catching the ball well, could not keep his shot down as it went over the bar.
Langford’s first shot of the game also had the same result as he blasted over a few minutes later whilst Golds hit wide after doing well to control a ball over the top.
Lawds responded by going close a few times themselves soon after. Firstly an attacker hooked the ball wide from a cross, then a few minutes later a cleared corner was delivered back in again and it found the head of opposition player. Lucky for Village, the attacker couldn’t get above the ball and could only head over.
A few minutes later however, Lawds did get an attempt on target as McAuley was called into action to produce a fine diving save to his right from the boot of a Lawds player.
With the first half coming to a close, Village maybe should have done better with five minutes remaining as Connell’s exquisite pass found Langford. However, the winger decided to turn in and pass the ball to Hindley instead of taking his man on. With Hindley losing the ball and fouling his man the move fizzled out to nothing.
The first half ended as it started with a bizarre refereeing decision. Edwards, who was running back to challenge his man, was adjudged to have pushed his opponent over. From the sidelines it looked like it was inside the box but the man in the middle opted to award a free kick instead of a penalty whilst booking the Welshman for his indiscretion. With the set piece coming to nothing the first half ended with Lawds taking an advantage into the break.
Half time: Lawds 1-0 VMFC1
McAuley’s team talk revolved around asking the players to up the energy and effort levels in an attempt to get back into the game.
The supporters were provided with some amusement during the break as Edwards was inadvertently getting involved in a game going on behind him as he stopped the ball going out for a corner with the back of his leg as the team talk encroached onto an adjoining pitch. He was running the risk of being booked by two different referees in two different games – instead he had the honour/dishonour of being booked three times by one referee in one match as the referee was going to have a game to forget.
The second half got off to a slow start with the muddy conditions hampering any chance of decent football being played on the ground.
The first real action of the half saw Holmes come on for Ackerley and a few minutes later Village had their first chance of the second 45 as Reece passed to Connell following Wilson’s precise through ball. The captain could only steer the ball wide however as he was running onto the ball.
On the hour mark, Lawds scored the goal that would end up being the decisive one. Edwards looked to have dealt with a ball through but unfortunately his mis-kicked clearance fell to the boot of a Lawds striker who made no mistake with the second gift of the game as his finished past McAuley. 2-0
Village attempted to respond to this and they nearly halved the deficit 10 minutes later as Langford was sent through on goal. His attempt was blocked by the onrushing keeper and the rebound was just cleared before Holmes could get anything on it. A minute later Lawds almost got a goal of their own – luckily Golds was quick enough to nip in and take the ball off the opposition’s boot before they got a shot away.
With 15 minutes left, American Aleixo came on for his first team debut in place of Reece.
Things started to get a bit messy in a final 15 minutes which included four yellow cards, two goals and a penalty.
Ure was yellow carded for a foul and Edwards was given a final warning for a tackle out on the left. Minutes later however, Edwards was again penalised for a foul in the box. A penalty was awarded and Edwards was given another (second) yellow card. The referee failed to produce the red however and the game carried on with Lawds making no mistake as they scored from their third gift of the game. 3-0
Connell was the next player to go into the referee’s book with a yellow for dissent.
Village looked to salvage something from the game and it was no surprise that the consolation goal would come from the club’s top scorer – Langford. The attacker drilled an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the goal with 10 minutes to go leaving the keeper stranded. 3-1
A couple of minutes later Hindley attempted to reduce the arrears even further but his shot from far out was never troubling the keeper.
The game came to an end with Edwards finally being sent off. With five minutes remaining, the Welshman was shown his third yellow of the game for another foul. This time the referee (whose name is presumably Clinton due to the number of cards he gave out), produced the red card and Village were reduced to 10 men for the final few minutes which passed without incident.
Village will be disappointed with their performance over the 90 minutes in this game. Despite the poor pitch and questionable refereeing decisions, there was no response to the half time team talk and Lawds deserved their win.
But to look on the bright side, there are still quite a few games left to try and rectify things and weather conditions and the state of the pitches should improve.
Full time: Lawds 3-1 VMFC1