FC Isle of Man crest
Sam Caine bursts through against Northwich Victoria

REPORT: FC Isle of Man 1 vs 3 Northwich Victoria

Bonfire weekend always brings fireworks and The Ravens were hoping to be back with a bang.

Having built some momentum recently off the back of a win 3-2 last weekend against Congleton Town, Manager Chris Bass named a similar squad with luck turning our way on the injury front, as Alex Maitland and Karl Clark returned to the matchday squad against Northwich Victoria.

The opposition had had a solid start to the season, sitting 6th in the league table prior to kick off, although they come off the back of double defeats in the league.

Changes to the starting 11 came with Michael Williams making a starting return for the first time from a lengthy injury as did Alex Maitland who partnered Sean Quaye at centre half. An honourable mention to the  Northwich Victoria fans that travelled in their numbers to the Island and made their voices heard throughout!

The opening minute saw a goal line clearance from right back Sam Caine following Northwich striker Matthew Dudley’s early effort. The following 10 minutes proved both Northwich wingers Damola Sotona and Matthew Birchall were guaranteed to be a constant threat, however there were no clear cut chances for either team at this stage.

Moments later, Ciaran McNulty took a corner from the left hand side which was met by prolific striker Luke Murray who was unmarked in the box to guide his header home to open the scoring in the home sides favour. That goal helped calm the home side down as they felt early pressure from the visitors.

A new centre midfield partnership of Tiernan Garvey and Michael Williams was a positive watch as they both complimented each other, with the former being the playmaker and the latter being the engine room of the team.

Northwich continued to press for an equalizer but struggled to break The Ravens down, for all the possession they had in the opening half the home side remained resilient. We still posed a threat in the first half as Captain Stephen Whitley’s deliveries into the box were searching for Luke Murray, which kept Northwich on their toes.

Approaching the half time whistle, Northwich Captain Joseph Camozzi found plenty of room on the right hand side and his resulting cross found midfielder Ashely Dunn who found the back of the net to equalize for the travelling team. Northwich then had their tails up, as they chased a second before the half time break with Matthew Dudley narrowly missing a 1 on 1 with keeper James Rice, putting his effort wide of the FC IOM goal.

Within the opening 5 minutes of the second half, Michael Williams made way for youngster Lewis Roberts with Williams seemingly suffering a lower back injury in the first half. Moments later Northwich were awarded a penalty by the Referee as centre half Sean Quaye had been found guilty of handball in the box. Harvey Whyte took the resulting penalty and calmly found the bottom right hand corner to put the visitors ahead.

This seemingly knocked the wind out FC IOM sails and with half an hour left on the clock, Ciaran McNulty and Charlie Higgins made way for Adam Mealin and Furo Davies as we looked to get back into the game. Furo Davies made an instant impact showcasing his physicality and had a few efforts from long range parried away.

Northwich’s game management and experience shone throughout in the second half as they made it difficult for the home side to play through, resulting in a more direct approach from The Ravens to find an equalizer.

In the final 10 minutes Tiernan Garvey was replaced by Dean Leece to inject some pace into the game, however FC IOM became their own worst enemy when Sean Quaye gave away possession which set Matthew Dudley away, he found winger Matthew Birchall who’s effort was curled into the bottom left hand corner putting Northwich 2 goals ahead of the home side.

The visitors were good value for their win on the night with The Ravens having moments in and out of the game. The Man of the Match award was given to Matthew Birchall, chosen by matchday sponsors Boal & Co.

Up next for The Ravens is an away fixture to Holker Old Boys in the FA Vase, where Chris Bass will hope his team can continue their good form in the competition.