Sunday 9 March 2014
Village Manchester are through to the next round of the MAFL Knockout Cup, which appears to have been renamed the MAFL Kings Cup, after seeing off PriceWaterhouse on penalties after the game finished 2-2.
The club were happy to see the sunshine make a welcome appearance after weeks and months of driving rain and cold winds. However, the Hough End pitch was in questionable condition with muddy puddles and numerous divots making play on the ground difficult.
Team-wise, Baker returned in goal whilst McPherson replaced Edwards in defence for his first 1st team appearance of the season. Feis-Bryce and Jones took their place on the bench.
Village started the game in high spirits and tried their best to play quick, incisive and attractive football. However, the bumpy pitch meant it was hard for the players to get a good first touch and the ball had to be played in the air more often than the team would have liked.
And it was PriceWaterhouse, who ply their trade in the league below Village, who would open the scoring as they profited from a mistake from the Premier Division team. Village were playing the ball around just inside their own half when they got forced off the ball. With Baker - who was at the left hand side of his goal anticipating a pass back - out of position, the PriceWaterhouse attacker smashed the ball towards the other side of the net. The shot was well placed and PriceWaterhouse had a one goal advantage.
Village had decent possession statistics but they were having trouble creating many obvious goal scoring chances despite Golds and Holmes working their socks off up front and Wilson, Carter and Connell providing the right mix of creativity and solidity in the middle.
In defence, the back five were rarely threatened with Hardern and Reece’s pace nullifying any threat down the flanks and Ure, McPherson and McAuley repelled any balls through the middle or over the top.
Half time: PriceWaterhouse 1-0 VMFC1
The half time team talk saw McAuley praise the players’ effort whilst asking them to get the ball down as much as they could so that they could create better chances.
The players heeded the gaffer’s words and it wasn’t long until it got its reward. McPherson took possession of the ball at the back and played a simple ball to Wilson. The midfielder’s clever ball found Hardern’s marauding run upfield and, with the defence not know knowing how to deal with the wing back, Hardern took aim from the corner of the box. His shot whizzed past the defenders and crashed in off the post to take the scores level.
Village seemed to be in control of the game but found themselves behind again with another careless goal. A set piece was delivered in from PriceWaterhouse’s right and McAuley met the cross. His headed clearance went straight up in the air but when it came back down the Irishman couldn’t see where it landed and a PriceWaterhouse attacker took advantage of this uncertainty to poke home.
To their credit, Village didn’t let this affect them too much and they kept playing their own game – a game which restricted the opposition to very little and saw Village go close a number of times.
Feis-Bryce came on for captain Connell, who was unable to carry on after injuring his leg earlier in the half. And it was Feis-Bryce’s ball that set up Village’s second equaliser. His smart ball found Wilson and the Derby County fan got his second assist of the game as he set up Reece. Reece still had much to do upon receiving Wilson’s pass and, after taking a couple of touches to create some space, he struck a powerful shot that found its way past the keeper.
Village kept pushing for a winner and looked the most likely to get one with shots being blocked and going wide from a number of players. They brought on Jones for the yellow carded Golds, but unfortunately time ran out before they could get the goal their performance merited.
And so it was that penalties would decide who would go through to face Vida in the next round.
PriceWaterhouse were up first and it was a great start for Village as Baker repelled the opening effort.
McAuley tucked his penalty away to give Village the advantage after one penalty each. The next six penalties all went in with Baker, Holmes and Reece all finding the back of the net.
With one penalty each remaining and Village leading 4-3, the shoot-out effectively went to sudden death. A goal for PriceWaterhouse would mean Hardern would need to dispatch his effort to take Village through. But Hardern didn’t need to take his penalty as Baker outwitted the opposition penalty taker who tried to fool the American. Baker was having none of it though and stayed in the middle of his goal as the spot kick taker shot straight at him.
Village should be pleased with their performance and they will look to build on it as they face a Vida side who are one place and 10 points better off than PriceWaterhouse in Division One.
Full time: PriceWaterhouse 2-2 VMFC1. VMFC win 4-3 on penalties.