Another sunny matchday for City, but as Norwegian
Partisans AHA would say ‘the Sun Always Shines on COLFC’, except on this occasion the Purps play wasn’t quite as bright on the pitch as the weather was off it.
Another big travelling party made their way to North West Manchester for what we always knew was going to be a tough game against a quality side on their own turf. Prestwich Heys first team won a treble last season and their reserves the double and the five trophies are proudly on display in a small, but neat and tidy clubhouse along one side of the pitch. Like ourselves, they are new boys in this league, but do have the benefit of having played in it many years ago before, and since their demotion on ground grading issues they have been a mainstay at the top of the Manchester League. No problems on ground grading this year though as clearly a huge amount of good work has gone in, to turn this ground into something we’d definitely be proud to be playing in when we eventually get a home to call our own.
Fresh from Wednesday night’s victory in that war of attrition over Litherland, Simon heeded the old adage that you never change a winning side, naming exactly the same starting XI and bench that he had in midweek.
8-Chris Dykes ©
Playing on an immaculate pitch with large wide areas, we were looking forward to seeing what the skills of Matty Williams and Mike Smith could do on such a big pitch, whilst also giving plenty of room for Joe Camozzi and Chris Lester to overlap too. The early exchanges were cagey, with the home side in the slight ascendency as their number 8 prompted and probed the action from the middle of the park, like a latter day Jan Molby, with a figure to match. However as the Purps began to find their feet they took more and more control over the game. On 12 minutes a pinpoint crossfield ball by Williams, set Lester free on the right, he strode his way forward with the ball, before slipping it inside to Smith, who lost it before any danger could be created.
Two minutes later it was the left side of the Purps dynamic fullback duo’s turn to maraud forward. Camozzi chasing after a through ball from McEllin was needlessly scythed down from behind by his opposite number down by the corner flag. The tackle deserved more than a strict talking to, but so early in the game the ref deemed to leave it at that. The free kick was swung into the box by Smith, but too close to the keeper.
City were now starting to dominate possession and territory, and a good one two between Smith and Peterson on 17 minutes put the former into position for a good cross, which again went too close to the keeper. Tom Peterson was being well martialled by the Prestwich centre half pairing, but he did manage to break free on 19 minutes. Still 30 yards from goal he stretched his legs and tried to outrun his marker as he headed for goal. Coming across though at tremendous pace was the red number 5 and eventually under pressure from two defenders breathing down his neck Tom shot wide from just inside the area.
When they weren’t busy dealing with Peterson, the Mancunian defensive duo were equally impressive keeping Andy Fowler quiet too, but on 23 minutes a foul outside the box on the bearded maestro presented the Cols with an excellent opportunity to open the scoring. Matty Williams lined up the free kick 20 yards from goal, and with the sun right in the keeper’s face tried to screw a shot around the wall, but it only managed to go into the side netting.
Heys were trying to get forward themselves, but McEllin and Dykes were easily dealing with the static number 8 and whenever he did manage to get on the ball and prod it forward, Weso and Danny Dalton at the back were always in control.
On 31 minutes, Mike Smith, who was seeing more of the ball than anyone on the pitch, tried his luck from range, only to see the keeper superbly tip his curling, looping shot over the bar. It just now seemed a matter of time before City took the lead. Just before half time they nearly did, when a fantastic shot on the half volley by Williams forced another good save from the keeper. But for all their efforts the teams went in for their half time orange segments level, whilst the purps in the crowd were thinking to themselves, we’ll ease past these in the second half when kicking towards the 150 or so partisans massed under the roof behind the goal at the other end.
If you want a fine example of a classic game of two halfs then you couldn’t ask for a better one than this. Maybe the Prestwich tea lady had put something in our tea at half time, or their manager had given his team a firm boot up the arse, either way it worked wonders. For as much as City dominated and controlled the first half, their opponents did the second.
In an effort to spark some life back into his side, Simon sent on Daley Woods for Tom Peterson on 53 minutes and almost immediately the game got the goal it needed…….from Prestwich. Longy did well to tip Tierney’s first effort onto the bar, but as seems to happen so often in these situations, the Purps defence weren’t alert to the rebound and Tierney was on hand to get to the follow up first.
The goal should have woke COLFC out of their slumber but it didn’t, Prestwich continued to dominate the game and when they did get forward, City were wasteful with the ball in good positions or from set pieces. Kev McEllin did manage to head a corner onto the bar on 65 minutes but it was as close as we were to come to celebrating a goal. Three minutes later, Declan Gregson was brought on for a very unhappy looking Chris Dykes to try and stretch the home side down the wings. Gregson’s early touches were loose, but once he settled into the pace of the game he quickly started to take effect. Played into the corner by McEllin, he easily beat his man and played a beauty of a low cross into the six yard area from the byline, unfortunately both Woods and Fowler were on their heels and couldn’t get anywhere near it.
On 83 minutes it was Heys turn to hit the bar from a free kick, and Simon went for broke, bringing on another forward in Leon Williams to replace Fowler and join Woods, Gregson and now Wesso up front. Gregson darted in between two red shirts and played in another terrific cross, but once again there was no-one in the box to meet it.
90 minutes ticked into injury time and just as the home side were starting to indulge in a bit of well earned time wasting came the lifeline COLs needed. Wesso was fouled in the box from a Smith free kick and the ref pointed to the spot……jubilation behind the goal.
Daley Woods assertively took the ball from Smith and insisted this moment was going to be his. After what seemed an age, he stepped up to take it, but just as Marten Stekelenburg was twice breaking Mancunian hearts on the south side of the city, Prestwich’s keeper broke scouse hearts on the north side as he saved what was a poor penalty from the Purps talisman striker.
There was just enough time for a few more desperate long range attempts on goal before the ref blew the whistle on another defeat for City. It seems results at the moment are a bit one step forward, one step back, but in truth today we just didn’t do enough to get anything from the game, and whilst Prestwich didn’t do much either, they got their goal and they earned the victory. In the middle of a run of fixtures against our toughest rivals for the title, City aren’t doing their chances any favours at the moment, and they quickly need to establish a good run of form if they don’t want them to start fading away……that starts on Tuesday night in what we be a very tough game at home to Widnes.
Coach travel to Prestwich is now available to purchase online below.
There are 50 seats available, the coach will be leaving The Empire Theatre in Town at 11.00am and picking up at the Rocket at 11.30am on a 1st come first served basis.
We will be stopping off somewhere en route for a drink and general bonhomie, but neither Gerry Shields nor Colin Wilcox are deciding where we stop, after the disasters en route to Holker (2 stops in 10 minutes at Service Stations) and Dignitas for a breakfast en route to Silsden.
We will be arriving at Prestwich Heys FC at approximately 1.45pm as we need to drop the kit off and carry out our football secretarial duties ahead of the game, but we believe there are loads of options for anyone who wants to go for a drink before the game starts, incl the bar at Prestwich Heys FC.
Cost is £10 adults and £5 for children U15, please specify when puchasing which pick up point you want.