FC Isle of Man crest

MATCH REPORT: Irlam FC 1 – 1 FC Isle of Man

A hard-won point was FC Isle of Man’s reward for a battling display in difficult conditions at Irlam on Thursday night.

With Paul Jones otherwise engaged, assistant Alex Harrison stepped up into the hot seat to take charge. 

The Ravens started quickly with a high press as Charlie Higgins and Frank Jones caused the hosts early worries, the latter drawing a relatively straightforward save from Irlam’s Austyn Hall after good work to create himself space.

At the other end, Adam Killey made a good early stop that set the tone for his evening as he batted away Takura Sambizi’s effort. 

As Higgins, Jones and Ste Whitley began to put combinations together to try and unlock the hosts, Irlam responded with a series of fouls which saw an early booking for the home side, while Jones was unlucky not to get on to a ball into the box ahead of Hall.

Another booking soon followed for Irlam captain Jacob Holt, which came for a nasty collision that forced Danny Gerrard off after just 20 minutes. 

With 34 minutes on the clock, a quickly taken freekick from McVey almost released Charlie Higgins, who was looking like the liveliest player on the pitch, but he was just unable to bring it under control.

But C. Higgins wouldn’t be kept quiet for long as he picked up a ball, crafted some space on the edge of the box and let fire when that shot was blocked he collected the rebound, danced through a couple of challenges and fired past Hall into the bottom right corner to give the Ravens a deserved 0-1 lead. 

Irlam had their dangerous attack before the end of the half as Jack McVey was needed to clear off the line before the defence scrambled to clear their lines. 

Whitley almost had a chance to double the Ravens’ lead before the break but after good link-up play between him and C Higgins and some selfless running by Jones to create the space, his shot was well blocked to ensure it was 0-1 at the break.

Callum Sherry was forced off at the break with an injury, with Blake Henwood coming on.

The second half showed a very different display from the Ravens as some tired legs began to show after the recent schedule. 

With Irlam not having played for over a week, their fresh legs showed as the Ravens sat deeper and deeper, but largely dealt with the issues quite well as Killey, J Higgins, McVey, Jacob Crook and Henwood, who deputised at right back, a role he wasn’t familiar with, extremely well. 

When the Ravens did break, it often came through Crook and Higgins, with Jones replaced by Adam Adebiyi who had a difficult game to come into for his debut, but showed glimpses of how good he can be when he gets a chance. 

As waves of Irlam attacks began to come, Killey and his defence stood defiantly strong, with the keeper making several big saves. 

However, that backline would finally buckle when Irlam put together a good move and Lewis Ayres, also making his debut, finished it off to make it 1-1.

With Killy making another big stop to save the point late on when Irlam broke clear, it was a well-earned point for the Ravens in difficult conditions. 

FC Isle of Man return home to the Bowl on Saturday for a 6pm kickoff against AFC Liverpool, we’ll see you all there.