The Ravens were back in front of their loyal fans again with a league game against opposition Ashton Athletic.
FC Isle of Man went into this fixture off the back of a 1-2 victory away at Litherland with a desire to get three points at home in scorching conditions at The Bowl.
Manager Chris Bass had returning personnel to his squad in Young Player of the Year and fan favourite Luke Murray. A suspension to Karl Clark gave Jamie Corlett a return to the squad as the young centre back recovers from a hamstring injury. The starting 11 saw two changes from our previous game with a return for fullback Ash Higginbotham and winger Adam Mealin.
With injuries to our recent striking options, Manager Chris Bass has had to be inventive recently by playing Ste Whitley in the 9 position with midfielder Jack McVey supporting in behind, and he decided to replicate this.
The Ravens started fast as Ste Whitley held the ball up brilliantly and slid Jack Mcvey through with a great through ball only for the midfielder to put his shot narrowly wide of the left hand post. Although moments later, Dean Kearns had a wobbly moment has he fumbled the ball to striker Richard Brodie but fortunately Alex Mailtand was on hand to clear the ball.
The opening 15 minutes saw the game very end to end as both teams had great chances. Early on it was noticeable there was battle forming between centre half Alex Maitland and Ashton Striker Richard Brodie, as both contested well in their duel throughout the 90 minutes.
Temperatures of 28 degrees in the Isle of Man, saw two water breaks added on the 25th and 65th minute and the heat seemingly had an impact on the game as the ending of the first half inevitably slowed down for both sides.
Whitely was very impressive holding the ball up well using his quick feet against the two centre backs of Ashton, which helped bring our midfield and wingers into the game.
However, Ashton winger Max Rodgers who was very impressive on the day turned fullback Jacob Crook and drilled a low shot for Kearns to parry out although this fell to striker Richard Brodie who’s reaction shot was superbly saved once again by Kearns, one for the cameras! The resulting corner was cleared to Ashton captain Samuel Houghton who drilled it low to the bottom left hand corner to put Ashton ahead.
FC IOM then had a spring in their step, as Whitley once again did brilliantly to hold up the ball and set Jack Camarda up for one of his blockbuster shots only for it to go narrowly wide. Just before the half time whistle, a whipped ball into the box by Jack McVey was floated perfectly onto the head of Ste Whitley who was unmarked in the box and guided his header into the back of the net to make it 1-1 going into the break.
The second half saw a substitution in Chris Bass Jnr coming on for Adam Mealin on the left hand side.
Max Rodgers was a thorn in FC IOM’s side throughout, and was clean through on goal and chipped Kearns on the edge of the box only for Max Lewens to tap the ball into the net but he was subsequently ruled offside by the linesman and the goal didn’t count.
Ste Whitley was the biggest threat going forward on the day and with a world class run down the right hand side he outpaced the Ashton full back and pulled it back for Lee Gale to fire his shot into the net to make it 2-1.
FC IOM really started to put their stamp on the game and used the left hand side more with Jacob Crook finding space going forward. Throughout the game it was evident FC IOM’s tactic of hitting diagonal balls into the opposition’s half to set our wingers away and turn their defence around worked well.
Luke Murray was introduced on the 65th minute for Lee Gale who made an instant introduction with an early shot on goal saved by Joseph Smith. With 75 minutes on the clock Jamie Corlett was brought into the action for Ash Higginbotham, who was solid throughout on the day. In the final five minutes, Sid Batty was introduced for midfielder Ronan McDonnell who really has made the centre midfield position his own this season.
Ashton pilled the pressure on towards the end exploiting their pace down the wings and height with Richard Brodie but The Ravens held firm and kept Ashton out. The match finished 2-1 to FC IOM and the Man of the Match was awarded to Ste Whitley by our Matchday sponsors Newfield.
Manager and Assistant Manager Chris Bass and Lee Dixon respectively, will be delighted to get the first three points at home in a newly promoted division as a thank you to the brilliant support FC Isle of Man received.