AFC Darwen v West Didsbury
On Saturday the 21st of January Darwen faced a tough challenge at home against 9th position West Didsbury, 3 points would be crucial for Darwen in the fight for survival, whereas for Didsbury the fight is on to keep themselves in a highly contested top 10.
It took Didsbury only two minutes to fashion their first opportunity of the match when some good play by Scott Mason down the right wing, was followed by a great pass to the edge of the area only for Nicolaus Evangelinos to fluff his first-time shot high over the bar.
The following 10 minutes saw good end to end football; with Didsbury applying a lot of pressure only for Darwen’s defence to hold firm. When Didsbury played keep ball in Darwen’s half if possession was lost Darwen would counter attack swiftly and looked dangerous on every play they just couldn’t find the final ball. The best chance of the 10 minutes fell to Darwen when an attack down the right was cleared by Didsbury and the ball fell to the feet of Anthony Lynch whose half-volley attempt from 20 yards was skied over the bar.
The best chance of the half for Didsbury came in the twenty-second minute, when miss-communication between defender saw the keeper coming out to claim the ball only to have a Darwen defender practically head the ball out of his hands. The ball looped over the box and landed at the feet of Joseph Shaw, the Didsbury striker, whose reaction-shot went sailing over the empty net from only 8 yards out.
4 minutes later another corner spelled danger for Darwen. Taken quickly to the near man, he had time to turn and send the ball in a dangerous in-swinging cross, Jonathan poizer rose and got a good head to ball and arrowed his shot down towards the bottom corner, but the Darwen keeper was a match for his shot and produced a good save with his legs.
On the half hour mark Darwen broke the deadlock! A corner from the left hand side to the near post by Karl Turner was brushed on by Kiel Lonsdale at the near post and the ball found the back of the net. Darwen 1 – 0 West Didsbury.
2 minutes later Darwen could have extended their lead when another corner gave an opportunity for Matthew Allen to test his acrobatics by performing an overhead kick; it made a good connection but to only be saved by the keeper. It would have been a great goal but it wasn’t to be.
Only 5 minutes later another great opportunity fell to Darwen, Alex Ralph with nice work on the left beating his man, cut inside and fired for home! His shot, however, was paired by the keeper but only into the path of Turner who was surprised to find himself with an opportunity only 6 yards from goal, he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet in time and his effort was straight at the keeper who had seen the danger and rushed to prevent it.
Didsbury pushed for the remaining minutes of the half but nothing was to be. At half time Darwen lead 1 – 0.
After only 7 minutes of the second half Didsbury should have scored! A through ball to Richard Gleave, who rounded the keeper, had the whole goal to aim at but somehow could only find the side netting. Darwen found themselves a lucky break.
On the 57th minute Didsbury had another chance only to be denied by the Darwen keeper, an over the top ball was hit on the second time of asking by Evangelinos his shot destined for home was well saved by the Legs of the Darwen keeper.
But on the 60th minute Darwen struck goal again, the Didsbury keeper slipped as he was taking a goal kick and the ball landed at the feet of Turner who found himself behind the Didsbury defence. Karl rushed forward, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home. 2 – 0 Darwen
From there on in Darwen dominated the chances, Didsbury did apply pressure but they couldn’t break down a solid Darwen back four. Declan Cunliffe and Anthony Lynch both had chances but they were saved and skied respectively. Darwen struck the final blow in the dying seconds; a goal kick went long over every player on the pitch, including the Didsbury defence, and Liam Cole charged on goal capitalising on lazy defending. Darwen won the game 3 – 0.
A crucial and moral boosting win for Darwen against a club high up the table, Darwen have now opened the gap between themselves and Nelson to 11 points, a comfortable gap on which Darwen can now build on and progress.