FC Isle of Man crest
Frank Jones scores for FC Isle of Man

REPORT: FC Isle of Man 2 vs 2 West Didsbury

With a handful of home fixtures remaining for FC Isle of Man, they came up against fellow promotion side from last season, West Didsbury & Chorlton, in which it was expected before kick-off to be a tasty affair.

Manager Paul Jones was unavailable for this fixture and in his place came former player Alex Harrison from the coaching staff to be the voice from the sidelines.

FIRST HALF

The Ravens persisted with their 3-5-2 formation as they look to utilize their wing backs however, West Didsbury matched them up. The home side couldn’t have asked for a better start as they took the lead in the first minute, striker Sean Doyle held the ball up well to slide a through pass to left-wing back Jacob Crook whose low driving cross found Captain Frank Jones and after making a clever run near post he fired the home side into the lead.

The captain’s constant vocals on the pitch demanding high expectations of those around him really set the tempo for the match. West Didsbury didn’t really get going until the 15th minute when they began to retain possession and attempt to break down FC Isle of Man formation but struggled in their initial attempts.

Approaching the half-hour mark, Ste Whitley hit a shot with his weaker foot and forced the keeper into a great save. The resulting corner led to a counterattack for West Didsbury, and set Benjamin Elliott 1 on 1 with keeper Dean Kearns, however the midfield powerhouse Michael Williams came to The Ravens rescue making a last-ditch tackle to stop the resulting effort.

In the latter 10 minutes of the first half, the travelling side began to get in behind with a few long balls but the Ravens held their line well and utilized the offside trap well. The abundance of pressing and energy from The Ravens was consistently brilliant throughout and reaped rewards as they doubled their lead in the 41st minute. Intense pressure from Sean Doyle and winger Charlie Higgins forced keeper Andrew Jones into a mistake, West Didsbury lost possession and wing-back Jacob Crook took advantage winning the ball back and hitting a driving pass into Whitley who put the home side 2 up.

SECOND HALF

As the second half began, it was very clear to see how well Karl Clarke has adapted to the right wing-back role who was a constant pest for West Didsbury. The opposition continued pressing to find a way back into the match and found a way through in the 56th minute. What looked like a foul on Sean Doyle in his attempts to hold the ball up was waved away by the Referee and West Didsbury capitalized with Darren McKnight slotting calmly into the bottom right to make 2-1.

Stand-in Manager Alex Harrison made his first substitution with Ryan Burns making way for Chris Cannell, the latter of which was a really pleasing sight with Cannell unfortunately suffering long-term injury throughout this season.  Conceding the goal didn’t dent The Ravens confidence, Whitley found space and fed Crook whose low driving cross met Doyle who narrowly missed the corner of the net.

As the game began to fizzle out, Ezekiel Eme found a little space on the right-hand side and hit a shot from around 25 yards, which took Dean Kearns by surprise to equalize and level the score at 2-2. Charlie Higgins made way for youngster Thomas Shimmin as FC Isle of Man began to search for a winner.

West Didsbury began to show their experience and hit the post in the final 10 minutes. A final substitution was made with Sean Doyle making way for fan favourite Furo Davies. The match became more feisty with stronger challenges going in and yellows being dished out for both teams.

Ultimately it was honours even at The Bowl, with both teams sharing the spoils on the night. The Ravens will be disappointed giving away a two-goal advantage but can take an abundance of positives from the first hour in particular as they distance themselves from the relegation zone.

The Man of the Match was awarded to Jacob Crook by matchday sponsors Morrissey Plumbing, an additional thank you to the fantastic and loyal supporters that once again came out in their numbers.