FC Isle of Man crest

Match Report: FC Isle of Man (4) – Barnton AFC (0)

The Ravens had the chance to jump up to second in the table last night after results elsewhere in the league opened the door to climb the league for a second consecutive week.

A second-place finish in the league would result in the Ravens having home advantage in the play-off semi-final so this was yet another huge game for FC IOM.

Chriss Bass Snr made a few changes from last week’s victory due to player injuries. Dean Kearns remained in goal and in front of him would be a back four of Alex Holden again at left back, Alex Maitland and Sean Quaye as the centre half partnership and then completing the back four would be Ryan Burns at right back.

Dan Simpson’s fine form off the bench in recent weeks would be rewarded with a start on the left wing. In the middle of the park would again be Jack Camarda and Michael Williams, which would leave Lee Gale on the right wing. Sean Doyle remained as the side’s focal point with Luke Murray being recalled to the starting eleven to play just off the big striker.

The game started at a slow, laboured pace, with both teams sloppily giving possession away and not being able to do much when they had the ball. Simpson provided the only spark in the first fifteen minutes as he jinked his way through following a Williams flick on, but his effort was well saved by the goalkeeper.

Barnton gave the Ravens a scare when an onrushing winger tried a cheeky first-time effort to lob Kearns but thankfully for the home side his effort came crashing back off the crossbar.

FC IOM had a half-chance through Camarda after good link up play between Doyle and Gayle, but the best chance of the game was about to fall to Doyle. Burns clipped a ball down the channel and as the opposition goalkeeper looked to be beating Gale to it he then seemed to get caught in two minds and as the ball slipped past him, Gale cut the ball back to Doyle who couldn’t keep his effort down with lots of the goal to aim at.

Again, after this the game had no real pattern as both teams struggled to make an impact on proceedings.

Things however looked to be heading towards a goalless half time whistle but five minutes before the interval the Ravens got a huge slice of luck. As a long ball came forward, it eventually broke into the path of Williams who looked to cut the ball back in search of a teammate. Instead, he could only find a Barnton defender but this worked out better than he could have hoped for as the opposition player slammed the ball into his own net.

A bizarre moment but one that FC IOM will take nonetheless. This goal seemed to spark the home side into life before the interval as in the next 5 minutes Gale, Camarda, Murray and Doyle would all be involved in moves that brought efforts on goal.

The Ravens came out for the second half like they finished the first. Gale’s run ended up with the ball at Murray’s feet and his left-footed effort trickled just wide.

The local fans wouldn’t have to wait long to see the net bulge though, and what a goal it was. Simpson collected Camarda’s cross-field ball and after great footwork yet again, he fired across the keeper into the bottom corner to double the lead and reward the home side for their fine start to the second half.

FC IOM were in the driving seat now and had it not been for a fantastic block from a Barnton defender it would have been three. Camarda cleared a corner which was retrieved by Gale, he played an inch perfect ball through to Simpson who unselfishly decided not to shoot and looked to square the ball to Murray. If it wasn’t for an expertly timed slide tackle, that could have been the game over there and then.

Shortly after this Bass Snr made his first change of the evening as he brought Ste Whitley on to replace Luke Murray. The game then entered another quiet spell, although FC IOM never looked in danger of being caught out.

Whitley nearly got an assist off the bench as his corner was met by Williams, but the midfielder would see his header skim the top of the crossbar. Set pieces have been a positive for the Ravens so far this season, with Simpson’s long throws a real weapon for the home side.

With ten minutes to go Simpson launched another of his missiles into the box and there was Doyle to flick home into the far corner with his head and surely seal all three points.

Bass Snr used this opportunity to make his final two changes, with Adam Cooil replacing Burns and Adam Mealin coming on for Gale.

The Bowl hosted an impressive 1,505 spectators and they were still to see some more Ravens magic. As Doyle won a flick on, Whitley executed a great lobbed through ball to Williams who met the ball sweetly on the half volley and had it not been for a spectacular save, we’d have had another contender for goal of the season on our hands.

Simpson was deservedly given the man of the match award and he would end the night with two assists to add to his goal.

With seconds remaining, he picked the ball up on the left and delivered a beauty of a cross and there was Whitley to head home and put the cherry on top of another Ravens win.

That’s five wins in a row for FC IOM now as they prepare for the first away trip since early December against Brocton.