The first South Manchester Derby of the season ended in a stalemate but was watched by a club record attendance of 674.
Having moved the game back a day to avoid clashing with the Premier League Derby fever was in full affect as West supporters smashed the previous record of 460 set in July for the visit of FC United of Manchester. West Manager Steve Settle was able to name an unchanged side from the team that won away to Hanley Town with the back five remaining unchanged for the third consecutive fixture.
The early stages of the match were a cagey affair unbefitting of both sides free scoring tendencies. Instead it was a tough tackling affair with both sides rising to the occasion and not allowing the other the space to play their natural game. In fact, both sides saw early bookings as Rory Breslin and Matty Kay were booked in the opening quarter of an hour.
The game’s first clear cut chance came on 17 minutes by the way of the visitors as West goalkeeper Dean Williams was forced to push a hard low effort into the bottom left hand corner round the post before diving onto the rebound. Moments later Maine Road followed this up with a cross into the box finding an unmarked head but the effort was straight at Williams who claimed comfortably.
On 19 minutes West responded with their first effort as a good cross from Paul Socha on the left found the head of Saul Henderson whose header flicked the ball on but Ryan Livesey was able to claim the ball comfortably. On 29 minutes Joe Shaw whipped a cross in from the right hand side into the path of Matty Kay but the West number 10 couldn’t divert it towards goal. He made no mistake on 34 minutes when Nic Evangelinos wonderful whipped cross found Kay 12 yards out and he powered his header beyond the helpless Livesey. It was Matty Kay’s 10th goal of the season and his 28th for West taking him past Rick Gleave on the leading club goalscorers list in the NWCFL-era.
It was West who finished the half the stronger of the two sides as first Shaw fired over from the edge of the area but Socha fired over after a Matty Kay corner reached him at the edge of the penalty.
The beginning of the second half saw West forced into a change as Ben Steer replaced the injured Carlos Mendes Gomes and the young winger almost had an immediate impact as his long throw into the box was turned agonisingly wide of the post. West attempted to put the game to bed as a hard effort from Steer on 56 minutes was struck straight at the keeper before Shaw turned a free kick just wide of the post on 59 minutes. The best chance fell just after the hour mark as Evangelinos found Steer unmarked at the far post but he could only roll it tamely into the keeper’s hands.
Maine Road, as ever, were undeterred and themselves grew back into the game as Williams was again called into action making a good save at his near post with 15 minutes remaining. On 79 minutes they went closer still as Matty Kay cleared a corner off the line after a huge scramble in the area which saw the visitors have multiple efforts on goal. However, the leveller came on 80 minutes when Williams came out to deal with a loose through ball only to mishandle it into the path of Callum O’Broady who happily dispatched into an empty net to send the Maine Road player into rapture.
There was still one moment of late drama as a cross found Shaw at the back post, controlling the first touch he went for the overhead with his second only to see it flash wide of the post. That was the last action of the half as both teams took a deserved share of the points ending West’s three game winning run.