It ended up being a hard day in the sun for the Ravens as they travelled to West Didsbury and Chorlton for week six of the inaugural league campaign.
With the squad looking to get back to winning ways manger, Chris Bass Snr, was once again unable to field a consistent team due to injury and availability issues. Injuries through the week for Chris Bass Jr and Jacob Crook meant changes over and above those already required due to the unavailability of Maitland, Doyle and Avery from last week’s team. Therefore, the team welcomed Furo Davies, Ryan Burns, Dan Simpson and Sean Quaye (for his league debut).
With the travel over to South Manchester going to plan the scene was set in for a lively encounter and the first 20mins certainly didn’t disappoint. The pace was fast and frenetic with both teams having moments on the counterattack, without really threatening each other’s goal with any real menace.
The first chance fell to WD&C; a cleverly worked short corner found its way to the back post. Fortunately for the Ravens, the unmarked player miscued the left foot volley and Dean Kearns in the Ravens goal saw the ball behind for a goal kick when a goal seemed more likely.
The Ravens’ first chance fell to Furo Davies following a lovely diagonal left to right free-kick from Jack McVey. Unfortunately, Furo was just offside.
With Simpson looking lively down the Ravens’ left and Davies running in behind the WD&C full-backs the Ravens looked a threat when breaking but ‘West’ had the chances with Kearns being forced into action saving well in a one-to-one encounter as the WD&C left winger broke through the centre when a through ball just evaded Quaye’s long legs. Sooner after, the same player cut into towards the FC Isle of Man goal and sent a rasping shot to Kearns’ left but the big man was alert and got down well to make a good save.
The Ravens grew into the game as the half wore on, spending more and more time in the WD&C half. On the quarter hour the travelling fans thought they had something to get excited about when Furo Davies went through one v one. With his trademark flick-flack trick, Davies looked as if he got the better of the defender but was blatantly pulled back.
The referee immediately signalled penalty! But the Ravens’ entourage excitement was short-lived as the assistant referee stepped-in to inform the referee the foul took place outside the box. McVey’s subsequent free kick was wide of the mark.
The Ravens were now bossing the game. Jack Camarda hit a stinging volley from outside the area that cannoned off the bar and bounced down just the wrong side of the line. McVey picked up the subsequent rebound and his left foot effort beat the ‘keeper but hit the outside of the post. Minutes later Whitely cut in from the right, onto his wand of a left foot, and struck a good effort towards goal which ‘West’s keeper did well to get down and hold onto.
The Ravens ended the half very much on top going although debutant Quaye was shown a yellow card for bringing down a WD& C striker.
Neither ‘keeper was called into action in the early stages of the second half during what was a rather subdued period of the game, as the heat started to take its toll on both sets of players.
The pivotal moment in the game came on 64 minutes.
A WD&C player found himself in the FC Isle of Man penalty area with seemingly no-where to go. With the ball close to his feet, he drew a nibble from Adam Cooil, the Ravens right back, and with what looked like very little contact went down. The referee was well sighted and decided there was enough in Adam’s challenge to award a penalty. ‘Wests’ skipper, with nine goals already this season, placed the ball on the spot and confidently sent Kearns the wrong way to put his side one up.
Bass Snr reacted immediately and summoned Lee Gale from the bench to replace the hard-working Davies. However, the Ravens were not able to garner much momentum, no matter how hard they tried.
With eights remaining, ‘West’ put the game to bed after winning the ball in the midfield and a clever interchange sent a WD&C player through the centre and his clever volleyed finish beat Dean Kearns.
Within minutes it was three nil. Sean Quaye was caught in possession while bringing the game out of defence. A quick series of passes in the transition left the Ravens exposed at the back as ‘West’ clinically sealed the game.
A less than ideal afternoon was rounded off in the final minutes when Quaye was judged to have committed a foul worthy of a second yellow card.
Ryan Burns was booked in the final minute of the game, which was further evidence of the Ravens frustrations in the Manchester sun.
We came across a well organised and football savvy team in West Didsbury and Chorlton and although there wasn’t probably too much between the teams for most of the game it’s another lesson for the squad to learn from as they adapt to playing at this level of the game.
Focus now turns to the Bank Holiday Monday trip to Abbey Hey FC who are riding high in the NWCFL Division one South and in good form.