FC Isle of Man crest

REPORT: Winsford United 3 vs 0 FC Isle of Man

In a game in which the performance deserved more, the Ravens ultimately came away from Cheshire empty handed this afternoon, going down 3-0 to the in-form Winsford United.

Paul Jones selected a youthful travelling squad for this encounter, naming a handful of teenagers in the group.

With James Rice in goal once more, Alex Maitland was partnered in central defence this week by Karl Clark. Either side of them, Phil Kelly started on the right, with the effervescent Jacob Crook left-back. Central midfield was the young duo of Kyle Watson and Tiernan Garvey, themselves flanked by Charlie Higgins on the left and the more experienced Ste Whitley on the right. Up front saw Tom Creer play off Luke Murray.

On a bobbly pitch, the Ravens started tentatively and found themselves immediately under pressure from the home side who attacked the left wing intently. Staying resolute and keeping shape however allowed FCIOM to build back into the game and soon possession began to swing in their favour.

The first real chance of the game came moments later, when Ste Whitley dropped a shoulder and played a wicked cross in for Luke Murray, but the ball bounced horribly off the turf and Luke couldn’t connect from only a few yards out.

Despite pinning Winsford back into their own half for the next period of the game, it was the home side that scored. As FCIOM pressed high, a neat interchange in the middle put Nathan Cotterell through one-on-one with Rice, the striker rounding the keeper to tap in and make it 1-0.

Heads didn’t drop though, the Ravens were straight back into it but Winsford were more than a match the in the middle, winning all second balls and quite easily holding their opponents at bay. More Whitely magic on the wing though lead to Murray chesting the ball down in the box, flicking it around his marker before unleashing at goal but a Winsford man put his body in the way to block.

As the half-time whistle was blown, despite being 1-0 down there was plenty to build on. Dan Simpson would come on for Tom Creer at the break.

Unfortunately, within five minutes of the restart FCIOM found themselves 3-0 down. A Winsford corner wasn’t cleared on a sticky pitch, which allowed Nathan Cotterell to pick the ball up on the edge of the box, firing a rocket into the top corner, with Rice only a spectator. The home side’s third came from a ball over the top, with Cotterell seizing on some indecision in the backline to round Rice and complete his hattrick.

Understandably, the wind was knocked out of FCIOM sails for the next period of the game, as the Ravens struggled to keep possession and make any real inroads. Slowly but surely though, the confidence returned and just after the hour mark, the goal nearly arrived. Whitley snuck in behind his man and as the goalkeeper came out, turned back outside and lobbed the ball towards the goal. Murray jumped but his marker, who had kept extremely tight to him all game, rose higher and was able to nod off the line.

As Morgan Naylor replaced Phil Kelly at right-back, Winsford became content to sit back, soak up pressure and then break at speed – an approach that nearly paid off was it not for some good tracking back.

With fifteen minutes to go, Tom Shimmin entered the pitch to replace Tiernan Garvey in the middle. The youngster immediately demonstrated his quality on the ball, spraying it adeptly to the wing for Whitley, but the chance was ultimately snuffed out.

Despite facing a seemingly unsurmountable scoreline, the Raven’s effort levels did not relent. Indeed, FCIOM should have had a penalty when Whitley beat his man inside the box but was then blatantly pushed off the ball. Then, moments later, Watson rattled the home side’s post with a beautiful curled effort from outside the box.

This would be the Ravens’ last chance however and full time came shortly after to bring an end to a promising performance but, ultimately, disappointing result.