In a thrilling encounter at the Bowl on Saturday evening, FC Isle of Man clinched a crucial victory against Irlam FC, with Sean Doyle’s clinical tap-in just two minutes into the second half proving to be the decisive moment.
The match kicked off with Irlam showing their intent straight away, spreading the play wide and delivering an early cross into the FC IOM box. The ball then shifted to the opposite end, presenting a half chance for Dean Pinnington that ultimately amounted to nothing. Despite a fast-paced opening 10 minutes, clear-cut opportunities were scarce for both teams.
FC Isle of Man then had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Sean Doyle connected with Pinnington’s free kick, only for an Irlam defender to poke it wide for a corner. Moments later, the Ravens pressed again, with Ben Wilkinson’s long ball finding Charlie Higgins on the right. Higgins beat his marker and sent a low cross toward Michael Williams at the near post, but he was beaten to the ball by Lee White in the Irlam goal.
Williams, then showed his defencive prowess, clearing an Aaron Flemming effort off the line to maintain parity. The intensity continued, with Pinnington beating his man down the right hand side, and getting a shot off, only to be denied by the woodwork at the other end. Bookings for Doyle and Nicholas Taylor followed, highlighting a fiercely contested first half, which concluded with both teams level.
The second half commenced with a bang for the Ravens. Pinnington’s header was saved off the line, and Lee White denied Higgins with a low save. Higgins then turned provider, delivering a powerful low cross to an unmarked Sean Doyle, who calmly tapped the ball into the open net, giving the Ravens the lead in the 47th minute.
The Ravens continued their bright start to the second half, with Pinnington and Higgins having half chances following the opening goal. Millen Brown tested the Ravens with a drive towards the box, but Callum Sherry cleared the danger. Williams made way for Frank Jones, and White then palmed away a ferocious Pinnington set-piece effort with the ravens on top.
Jones and Pinnington then combined down the right, but the latter was denied once again at the near post. Manager Paul Jones then made a double substitution, replacing Tiernan Garey and Higgins, with Tom Creer and Danny Gerrard, as they aimed to see out the game.
In the dying embers of injury time, Ben Wilkinson produced a match-winning save, denying Jack Mitchell as he bared down on goal. After a pulsating contest where a solitary goal separated the sides, Charlie Higgins received the IFGL Man of the Match award.
FC Isle of Man look ahead to their next challenge against Skelmersdale United at the Bowl on Saturday, February 3rd, with kick-off scheduled for 18:00.