Despite coming back from a two goal deficit to take the lead, the Ravens lose out to Burscough in a thrilling, but ultimately disappointing, seven-goal second half.
Once again, James Rice begun in goal for the Ravens however, for this game, we started with a back three of Alex Maitland, Jamie Corlett and Jack Mcvey. Regular left-full back Jacob Crook retained his place while on the right was Tom Shimmin. Centre midfield was occupied by Sam Baines and Ronan McDonnell who went straight back into the starting line-up following injury. Ahead of them captain Ste Whitley begun in the number 10 role with Furo Davies as the lone striker.
The game started at a high pace, with Jacob Crook playing very high allowing Charlie Higgins to push on himself to support Furo Davies on the last line. It was the big man who had the first shot on five minutes, racing on to a Whitley through-ball only to be denied by a good save.
It was Higgins who then broke the lines and was brought down on edge of the box, the resulting free kick from Whitley was whipped with pace towards the bottom corner but was well saved again by goalkeeper. Moments later Whitley played a teasing cross in for Davies but he couldn’t quite connect and the ball drifted wide.
After Higgins turned provider for Davies his cross is met by the toe of Jacob Crook who appeared to be clipped inside the box, however the ref waved away the Ravens vocal penalty shouts.
Early on, the game was largely under control, with Burscough restricted to trying the wings through the pace and trickery of Xenon Bahula but his efforts were ultimately snuffed out.
Twenty minutes in however and Burscough began to come into the game. First, FC Isle of Man fail to clear the ball from the edge of their area then a sloppy pass in midfield gifts the ball to the visitors, whose through-ball is ultimately too long. Then it’s Burscough’s turn to shout for a penalty as Rice rushes out to meet their striker, but the goalkeeper had cleanly intercepted the ball first.
To relieve pressure Crook pulls wide left was found by McVey, his touch to control was fantastic and while his cross looked too long for Whitley, it caused the goalkeeper some panic who had to scramble back to collect.
FC Isle of Man found it tricky to break down a well organised Burscough side who belie their league position, the visitors confident to pass the ball out from the back and regularly test our backline with balls over the top. Paul Jones reaction was to switch Charlie Higgins and Ste Whitley, with the captain moving towards the left, however the Ravens couldn’t find a goal before the half time whistle was blown.
The game resumed with plenty of efforts on goal from both sides, with Whitley stinging the goalkeeper’s palms from range and Burscough forcing Rice into a fine diving save after quick break.
Burscough’s persistence was rewarded less than ten minutes later. The Ravens failed to track and clear the ball allowing Thomas Ruffer to strike from inside the area and give the visitors the lead. Jones immediately made a double change, with Tom Creer and Morgan Naylor coming on to replace Charlie Higgins and Tom Shimmin.
The Ravens continued to probe and press but couldn’t find a breakthrough. A pacey Tom Creer run down the left and wicked low cross was almost met by Whitley at the near post but the goalkeeper beat him to it. Almost immediately up the other end Burscough’s Ruffer’s close control and shot nearly doubled their lead but the effort was wide.
The visitors did get their second goal however moments later from the penalty spot through Thomas Ruffer, as Morgan Naylor was adjudged to have been too strong for their forward inside the box. Ronan McDonnell was substituted for Kyle Watson at this point.
Thomas Ruffer’s game then ended early as the he received a straight red card for dissent. Burscough’s frustration was compounded moments later too, as the Ravens got a goal back through Jack McVey. After great work from Baines to earn a corner, McVey was first to a loose ball to smash in from close range.
Only five minutes later, the Ravens were level. Jacob Crook powered down the left flank, beat his man and the goalkeeper – his shot hit the base of the post and Morgan Naylor was there following up to tap home for his first goal for the club.
The scores weren’t level for long either, as a pin-point free kick in from Whitley was met by Furo Daves’ at the back post for his now customary late goal. FC Isle of Man now led 3-2 and where the home crowd was subdued following Burscough’s lead, it was now was rocking.
This joy was sadly short lived however, as a quick counter from the visitors followed by a sharp turn and shot inside the box from Lewis Sinnot brought the game level once more.
With the referee indicating an additional five minutes of added time, the Ravens just had to hold on to secure an unlikely point from the game… however, this wasn’t to be.
In an almost identical move to their earlier penalty award, a Burscough man tumbled inside the box and as the clock ticked to 92 minutes, the referee pointed to the spot once again. Up stepped Alex McMillan to send Rice the wrong way and seal all three points for Burscough.
At the final whistle there was disbelief and disappointment in equal measures. With all seven goals coming after the break it made for an entertaining half of football, but the defeat will be hard to take for the Ravens having fought so hard to get back into the match.