FC Isle of Man crest

Match Report: FC Isle of Man (0) – (0) Cammell Laird 1907 FC

The Ravens went into this fixture welcoming a Cammell Laird team to a windy and wet Isle of Man. With FCIOM in fantastic home form and having played away from home in the previous fixture, securing a win a 1-0 win at Brocton the week before, the team were delighted to be playing in-front of their loyal home fans again to continue The Bowl being known as a fortress.

The Ravens sat pretty in second place in the league with the aim of piling the pressure onto first place leaders West Didsbury, whilst Cammell Laird sat in 13th place looking to cause an upset in the division.

Manager Chris Bass looked to keep things fresh within the squad knowing the club had an additional fixture the next day against Eccleshall in a rare ‘double header weekend’. This saw Scott Horne, Cameron Avery and Jacob Crook all entering the matchday squad whilst Ash Higginbottom, who was a regular at the start of the season, was also welcomed back.

As the weather calmed down in time for kick-off, captain and the league’s Player of the Month for January, Sean Doyle led The Ravens out with the prolific striker not short of confidence going into this fixture.

Bass Snr set the team up with a continued formation of 4-5-1, with Ste Whitley in the number 10 role where he thrives and is a constant threat for the opposition. A change in defence saw Alex Maitland partner Cameron Avery at centre half, with Sam Caine and Jacob Crook as fullbacks. The formidable midfield partnership of Jack Camarda and Michael Williams continued as that engine room for The Ravens, with our wide men not short of any pace and goal threat in Adam Mealin and Dan Simpson.

With a delayed kick off due to the opposition experiencing weather disruptions when travelling, this didn’t hinder the atmosphere building up inside The Bowl with all generations of fans turning out to watch The Ravens putting on a show.

Cammell Laird started the match lively with a 4-4-2 formation which was causing some early problems for home defence, however the they tried to exploit the opposition’s flanks to attempt to turn Cammell Laird around into their own half to find the opener. The first quarter of the match was cagey as both teams sussed each other out with no clear cut chances for either side. Whilst the first half offered little to nothing to report on, left back Jacob Crook was a stand out player, finding some good space to bomb down the wing and link up with Dan Simpson.

The Ravens started the second half on the front foot, as Manager Chris Bass demanded the speed of play be enhanced from the dugout. And a great chance fell for Sean Doyle early on, as Jacob Crook glided through the opposition’s midfield and sent it wide to Dan Simpson, who’s cross narrowly missed the head of The Ravens captain. This would become a tactic employed by The Ravens to use that left hand side via Dan Simpson who was finding some joy up against Cammell Laird’s fullback.

On the 65th minute, a corner for Cammell Laird saw a header hit the crossbar  – a very narrow escape for The Ravens but it seemed to wake the home team up immediately. Within minutes when Dan Simpson’s cross was met by the head of Michael Williams who timed his run to perfection but unfortunately headed onto the crossbar.

The 70th minute brought a sub for The Ravens, as Adam Mealin exited for striker Luke Murray, who has been prolific from the bench in recent games. The entry of Luke Murray shifted Ste Whitley onto the right hand side, and he went on to cause all sorts of problems cutting onto this left foot with in-swinging crosses into the box.

Moment later, Jack Camarda was sin-binned by the Referee, which left The Ravens with 10 men for the next 10 minutes of the final 15 to play. The home side continued to pile the pressure late on, with multiple crosses into the box which were defended resolutely by the Cammell Laird backline. As Jack Camarda’s sin-bin approached its finish Luke Murray’s had just started, as the striker was sent back to the dugout by the Referee for back-chat. A word for Cameron Avery and Alex Maitland though, who were solid throughout, coping with everything thrown at them in order to keep a clean sheet.

A valiant and stubborn performance from the visitors Cammell Laird who deserved their point on the day. Not the best day at the office for The Ravens however, who are lucky enough to be able to put things right less than 24 hours later with a home game against Eccleshall.

There was another fantastic attendance in the Bowl, with a confirmed 1,203 braving a bitterly cold night. Man of the Match was Dan Simpson, awarded by the matchday sponsors Boal & Co.