So, after the euphoria, excitement and relief of finally getting our first season in the North West Counties Football League (NWCFL) underway last weekend, we now have the unusual, but pleasant experience of now looking forward to our second game. This weekend, our month-long series of road trips continues as the Ravens travel to Hollyhedge Park to play Wythenshawe Amateurs.
Our Opponents this Week
Like FC Isle of Man, Wythenshawe Amateurs are a relatively new club to the NWCFL, becoming a member of the league as recently as 2018/19, finishing an impressive 4th in their debut season in Division One (South). The club itself, however, have a long history and were formed in 1946 and through the years they have competed in various local leagues, most notably the Manchester League where they were twice crowned Premier League champions in 1990 and 1993, while they have also lifted the Lancashire Amateur Cup on three occasions.
Hollyhedge Park is a relatively new ground, and was opened in 2017, just prior to the club’s transition to the NWCFL. The club’s manager is Shane Goldrick.
‘The Ammies’ have started the season extremely well and have won both their opening games away from home. In the season opener last Saturday, two goals in the last nine minutes from Louis White and Francesco Frangillo gave them a come from behind victory at Barnton. While on Monday at Maine Road FC, a hattrick from Edward Brown helped his side to another comeback win, this time from two goals down. So, it’s safe to say that this will be no easy game for the Ravens, but as you can imagine everyone is looking forward to the challenge.
FC Isle of Man Team News
It’s a good news, bad news deal on the selection front.
Club captain Frank Jones was injured early on against Maine Road FC last week and it is doubtful whether he will be able to travel this weekend, while Right Back Sam Caine will definitely miss the trip after also being forced off with injury at Brantingham Road.
However, the good news is that several players who were unavailable for the season opener are now recovered from injury, so manager Chris Bass sr will have extra reinforcements to pick from. Mercurial midfielder, Jack McVey may be back in the fold, as so too might be the energetic Jack Camarda. On the striking front, expect forwards Sean Doyle and Furo Davies to be fighting for a place on the boat/coach on Saturday morning. A big plus though, is the return of long-time island legend, Chris Bass jr who could make his FC Isle of Man debut this week.
Bass sr was a tad disappointed not to bring all three points home last week and reflected a little on the events of opening day when we chatted during Thursday’s training session.
“Looking back on last week I’d like to thank all those traveling supporters that came to support FC Isle of Man,” he says. “I thought the turnout was fantastic. I know of people that drove from all over the UK, some as far away as Scotland to support us. That kind of support is invaluable to us as a team.”
“With regard the game itself, we did okay considering we didn’t have any pre-season games which has made preparation very difficult. Also, losing our most two experienced players (Jones and Caine) in the first half did not help.”
“We had good opportunities to win last week, but in some way’s a draw’s a good result because we know we’re not papering over any cracks. But I saw enough last Saturday to recognise, that with each passing week, that we’ve got the squad and the strength in depth to be able to start winning games.”
And now we look forward to our next challenge, and Chris has been impressed with the early season come from behind performances of our opponents this weekend.
“Looking at their two results this week,” he says, “it tells me something about Wythenshawe Amateurs. That is that they keep playing right to the end. It tells me a lot about them as a team, and it is a quality we are looking to instil into our players. All top teams, have that never say die attitude and keep playing until the final whistle whether that’s the 90th minute or the 100th.”
As stated above, there will be some forced changes to the travelling squad this week, but Bass is unperturbed as he has faith in the depth and quality of the squad.
“It’s unlucky for the lads who will miss out this week”, he says. “However, we have got some experienced players coming back in, and there’s still a couple more to come too so it won’t be long before we’re at full strength.”