A depleted West Didsbury & Chorlton made it four straight league games without a win as they succumbed to a 94th minute stoppage time winner at Congleton Town.
West headed into the game off the back of the news of Ash Woods mid-week move to Trafford and were further rocked by the absences of Anthony Potts, Joe Shaw and Rick Gleave. However they were boosted by the return to fitness of both Club Captain Mark Rogers and Ben Woods following long lay-offs; however both would have to settle for a place on the bench.
With so many absentees West Manager Steve Settle handed Saul Henderson his first start since joining from Maine Road with Matty Kay deployed in the unusual holding midfield role in front of a make shift centre half pairing of Martyn Andrews and Jordan Poole.
It was a hard fought game with little of goal mouth incident in the opening exchanges as a bumpy surface failed to prove conducive to open football. The first attempt on goal came on 21 minutes as a lovely pass from Matty Kay found Rob Black who attempted to lob Congleton goalkeeper Ross Heywood but the Congleton stopper made a good save. A minute later Nic Evangelinos chested down a high ball into the path of Henderson but his shot was deflected wide for a corner. At the other end West goalkeeper Dean Williams did well to dive onto a loose ball inside the six yard box after Congleton were allowed to bring down a corner at the near post.
Evangelinos, Black and Jonny Poizer would all have chances before the end of the half but none could stretch the goalkeeper with Poizer’s arguably the best chance on the stroke of half time firing just over from a very narrow angle to ensure the two sides went into the half 0-0.
West started the second half quicker than they’d started the first as Poizer curled a free kick just over from 20 yards out to open the second half. On 55 minutes Black saw a hard effort parried away by Heywood who did superbly to deny Poizer, quickest to react to the loose ball, by scrambling to pounce on the ball. West’s early pressure was rewarded on 56 minutes when a superb through ball from Ben Steer released Henderson on the right and he did well to power a hard effort under the Congleton goalkeeper from the edge of the area.
The lead lasted eight minutes as disaster struck from West when a harmless high ball was launched into the West penalty area and Poole’s header back towards Williams struck his own shoulder allowing Declan Fletcher to pounce and fire under the helpless West goalkeeper. It was a brutal blow for West who’d been in control of the game and a devastating mistake from the 20 year old who otherwise had an assured game in his makeshift position.
The last 20 minutes saw little in the way of goal mouth action with Congleton buoyed by their goal. The winner came in the 94th minute as a ball was fired into the West penalty area and Rick Bailey was allowed to simply roll an effort into the bottom right hand corner from a narrow angle to send the home support into raptures. It was harsh on West who’d been the better side from much of the game but another costly reminder of the price for lapses in concentration.