Sunday 4 May 2014
Village Manchester put in an inspired performance as they held league leaders PWC to a 1-1 draw at the weekend.
PWC defeated Village 3-0 at the start of April and they were looking for another victory which would see them put a few fingers on the Accountants League trophy.
Village were determined to be party poopers and sent out a team which would pose a lot of questions for the opposition. Edwards and McPherson defended either side of Ure with Clayton and Johnson on each wing. McNaught was charged with being the defensive lynchpin in midfield with Hardern and Ackerley just in front of him. Holmes and Golds provided the energy up front with Hall and McAuley on the bench.
The pitch was a little shorter than usual and it was a fact that played in Village’s hands with balls over the top proving to be less of an issue in this game than in the corresponding fixture. Village tried to keep possession and build nice moves but the pressing of PWC meant that play was broken up more often than not.
The game was a bit end to end but neither team was really posing too much of a threat with both defences repelling attacks. Village suffered a setback halfway through the half as Johnson – who made a promising debut for the second team the previous week – had to come off with an injury. Hall replaced Johnson on the right hand side.
Village were defending well but the pressure was building and the opposition eventually made it pay with a slightly fortuitous goal. PWC were attacking down their left and Village looked to have things covered. However, a burst of pace and smart run from one of their midfielders saw him take the ball to the by-line and fizz a low cross into the six yard box. Ackerley, who did well to get back to the near post, stretched out a boot to stop the ball reaching an attacker in the box. Unfortunately his touch saw the ball nestle in the bottom corner of the net. 0-1
It was important that Village didn’t let their heads drop and they displayed a great attitude – which was prominent throughout the whole game – that brought them an equaliser not long after PWC’s opener. A ball was delivered up front to Golds and the striker’s touch saw the ball head towards Hardern. With the ball sitting up slightly, Hardern showed good technical ability to connect with the ball brilliantly and he saw his shot sail over the keeper into the far side of the net. 1-1
The first half ended with both teams cancelling each other out.
Half time: VMFC1 1-1 PWC
At half time McAuley praised the work rate and told the team that a victory was possible from the game.
Village took the words on board and produced a second half performance that was deserving of a winner. The team was finding Holmes and Golds more regularly than they did in the first half and the energy, strength and skill of the two front men was asking questions of the league’s best defence.
Village were frustrating their opposition and the game started to get a bit disjointed with a number of free kicks given for niggily fouls. PWC were trying to build attacks through the middle but the work rate of the Village players in the middle of the pitch meant that they were pushed out wide more often than they would like. This suited Village just fine as Baker – whose command of his box was perfect throughout – was able to come out and clutch the balls out of the air. PWC’s frustration soon boiled over as Baker was clattered in mid-air by an opposing midfielder as he came out to snub out another attack.
Village looked the more likely of the teams to score and were provided with a number of opportunities from set pieces. Unfortunately the size of the PWC defence ensured that these were really only half chances.
However, it was Village who came the closest to scoring and it was from the boot of McNaught. The Liverpudlian controlled the ball 25-30 yards out towards the left and smashed a well hit shot towards the goal. With the goalkeeper scrambling desperately to his left, the ball went just inches wide of the post.
PWC were pushing more men up as they searched in vain for the winner that would see them have one hand on the trophy – but Village were having none of it and defended calmly and comfortably and dealt with everything that was thrown at them. They also posed questions of their own with Holmes belying his stature to win numerous headers which saw PWC on the back foot.
The full time whistle soon sounded with honours even.
The performance and energy levels shown by the team were first class and the fact that some players were disappointed not to win shows that the desire and ability is there for the club to push on and look forward to next season.
Ure was immense at the back and he marshalled McPherson and Edwards – who marked the two forwards and reduced them to weak shots or blocked crosses – well and Clayton, Hall and Ackerley were both defensively sound and provided a creative outlet that the rest of the team could work from. McNaught and Harden competed brilliantly with a fearsome midfield and Holmes and Golds never gave up and ran the defence ragged.
Village may not be fighting for the league title this season but they could have a big say on where it does end up. After holding PWC to a draw they also have to face South Manchester who have a raft of games in hand in comparison to the top two, and Iraq FC. The role of party-pooper is proving to be more fun than it sounds!
Full time: VMFC1 1-1 PWC