With back to back away fixtures consecutively postponed due to weather conditions, FC IOM were back in front of their home fans against league leaders Vauxhall Motors. The front runners of the league went into this fixture with a 4 point advantage over second placed Wythenshawe Town.
Manager Paul Jones freshened the squad up with new signing Eoghain Sherrard, to bring an attacking element to our right hand side as he was introduced to the matchday squad for the first time. Ryan Burns also made a welcome return to the starting 11 to provide composure to our backline. An injury in the warm up to goalkeeper James Rice awarded Ben Wilkinson a surprise debut for The Ravens.
The match started frantically from both teams as a free kick awarded to The Ravens gave Furo Davies the opportunity to get a strike on goal. From distance, he hit the ball with trademark power and struck the underside of the crossbar, unfortunate not to open the scoring.
However, in the 7th minute Vauxhall Motors took the lead with a ball over the top of the left side of our defence that sent winger Michael Burkey away 1 on 1 with Ben Wilkinson to find the back of the net. Shouts of offside from the stands were waved over by the officials.
The opening 25 minutes saw our press and interplay vastly improve from the previous match against Kendal Town, as we harried the league leaders into mistakes as they struggled to cope with our energy. As the game grew on, we began to utilize our wing backs more with Jacob Crook and Eoghain Sherrard finding space.
As the first half drew to a close, Ben Wilkinson made some consistently brilliant saves to keep the score at 0-1. Ryan Burns was instrumental as he led the backline well playing by example.
Vauxhall Motors as expected came flying out in the second half and managed to extend their lead with an impressive counter attack with Aaron Dawson holding the ball up well and feeding Michael Burkey to complete his brace, 0-2.
Eoghain Sherrard made way for Phil Kelly, as he returned from injury, followed moments later by a double substitution as Tom Creer and Jacob Crook exited the field for Charlie Higgins and club captain Frank Jones.
Manager Paul Jones changed formation in the final half hour from a back 5 to a back 4 as we pressed to find a way back into the game. However, as we began to tire due to an extensive press in the first half, Vauxhall Motors used their experience to kill the game off as Aaron Dawson fired a low driving shot past Wilkinson to make it 0-3.
Kyle Watson and Jamie Corlett were introduced in the final 20 minutes with Ryan Burns and Ronan McDonnell making way. Debutant Ben Wilkinson continued to be tested by the attack of Vauxhall Motors but was outstanding for The Ravens as he kept the opposition out from extending their lead.
It was always going to be a tough night for a very young FC IOM side as they faced the league leaders, however the performance outweighed the result on the night as Manager Paul Jones can take a way a lot of positives as we look to build on this performance with another home game against Squires Gate on the horizon.
The man of the match was awarded to Michael Burkey by matchday sponsors Altenar who also very generously provided 100 free match tickets for primary school kids on the Island.
The attendance on the night was an impressive 783 at The Bowl as we continually appreciate the incredible support from our Island and look to welcome them back next week for a crucial home clash.