Three consecutive wins on the bounce for FC Isle of Man left them with two final home games to go this season. Bury AFC were given a very warm welcome to the Island as they brought a staggering 600 fans to The Bowl, creating a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium.
Manager Paul Jones made four changes to the matchday squad that saw us defeat Avro FC last weekend. A late knock to Chris Cannell meant youngster Jack Higgins took his place, Jacob Crook and Tiernan Garvey returned with Ben Wilkinson taking his place between the sticks.
Prior to kick-off, on behalf of the club, Craig Cowin was presented with the Respect Award for November 2022 through to January 2023 for the Premier Divison awarded by Debbie Jessop from NWCFL. A thoroughly deserved award for Craig who is the epitome of an example for what the Football Club represents.
It was evident early on how comfortable in possession the travelling side were, Jack Tinning’s distribution on his left foot from centre half was a stand-out as Bury looked to play their way out from the back. Initially, The Ravens struggled to adapt to their usual press as they picked and chose their moments to catch the opposition out in the final third. Winger Lewis Gilboy beat the offside trap early on forcing one of a multiple incoming saves Ben Wilkinson made on the night.
It took until the 25th minute for FC Isle of Man to have their first opportunity. Jacob Crook made a mazey run from wing back and fired a low drilled cross to Captain Frank Jones in the box, he neatly laid it off for striker Sean Doyle who’s shot was saved by Bury keeper Jack Atkinson.
That chance gave the home side confidence to push on and they found the opener through Sean Doyle. The ball was found bouncing around the opposition third with winger Ste Whitley being the first to the ball and his flicked header sent Frank Jones through, he found Doyle who was one on one with Jack Atkinson with the prolific striker calmly finding the right-hand corner.
Benjamin Wharton posed a physical presence upfront for Bury but struggled to find himself involved in the match as centre-halves Alex Maitland and Jack Mcvey dealt with the striker extremely well.
The second half gave the opportunity for both teams to reset but it was the away side that took the early initiative. The Ravens struggled to clear their lines with the ball finding its way to winger Connor Comber on the edge of the box, his low driving effort found the back of Wilkinson’s net levelling the score 1-1.
FC Isle of Man replied almost immediately, Whitley who was a constant thorn in the side of Bury on the night, floated a lovely ball into Michael Williams who caressed the ball into the back of the Bury net with his head, the celebrations were wild! The home side weren’t done there, Whitley doubled his assists on the night as his corner found Sean Doyle whose bullet header put The Ravens 3-1 up.
Youngster Jack Higgins was introduced into the match with Karl Clarke exiting the pitch, the latter of which has been excellent at wing back for numerous weeks. The home side really did take control of the game as Club Captain Frank Jones had another great opportunity but his header went narrowly wide of the post.
Bury’s work rate and commitment could not be faulted, as they pressed for their second goal. Their efforts were rewarded as Lewis Gilboy’s shot deflected off Michael Williams and unsighted Ben Wilkinson to make it 3-2, the travelling Bury fans loved that one!
Williams, who ran himself into the ground, was replaced by Tiernan Garvey as The Ravens looked to freshen things up. Bury substitute Michael Monaghan had a fantastic chance to level the score as he found himself one on one with Wilkinson only for the FC Isle of Man keeper to make another unbelievable save.
Manager Paul Jones made a further substitution with Tom Shimmin entering the pitch for Charlie Higgins, this was followed by another great chance for Bury as Lewis Gilboy shrugged Tiernan Garvey off and outpaced The Ravens’ defence, only for his effort to be toe-poked wide of Wilkinson’s net.
Wilkinson was on a mission to get that Man of the Match award as he once again made an outstanding save from Jack Tinnings header. A final substitution came in the form of Ronan McDonnell as he took his position in midfield for Sam Baines.
The match entered the final moments and as the home side countered from Bury’s consistent pressure, the ball broke to Whitley who held the ball up well and slid Crook in, he burst into the box and was brought down by Tinning, with the Referee pointing to the penalty spot. Jack Mcvey stepped up to take it but his effort was saved by Jack Atkinson, this was followed by the referee’s whistle for full time as the home side celebrated with their fans.
The Man of the Match was awarded to Ben Wilkinson by matchday sponsors Thomas Miller Investment, this was greeted with rapturous applause by both sets of supporters.
As expected, an excellent atmosphere and two impeccably well-supported clubs gave us a great occasion with both clubs looking to go one better next season as they look for promotion. A special mention for the 600 travelling Bury fans, they really were a credit to their club and we look forward to welcoming them to the Island again next season.