MATCH REPORT | Abbey Hey 1-3 West

Saturday 17th August 2019, NWCFL First Division South

Abbey Hey 1 (Regan 89)
West 3 (A. Woods 4, 22, Moloney 90+2)
Att: 152

Ash Woods inspired West to a gritty three points at Abbey Hey as our unbeaten start to the season continued in east Manchester.

Brad Cooke’s side, who moved up to third after this win, shrugged off a raft of injuries and absences to race into a two-goal lead thanks to Woods’ exhibition of finishing. Abbey came back into the game, though, and West were indebted to Andrew Jones’ penalty save on the stroke of half time.

The second half was much tougher going with West struggling for fluency, and Abbey threatened a comeback when Matt Regan pulled a goal back in the dying embers of normal time. But Dylan Moloney provided an exclamation mark in the second of three added minutes, settling matters with a sumptuous half-volley from the edge of the area.

Though Tuesday night’s win at home to Stockport Town lifted West into the First Division South promotion places, it left its mark in other ways – Zac Cooper, Lee Gavin and Lee Grimshaw were all missing through injuries sustained against the Lions, while Matty Boland, Jake Kenny, James Cottee and Matthew Cook were also absent for the trip to Gorton.

That meant for the first time this season, Cooke was forced into wide-ranging alterations – five in total from Tuesday’s starting 11, with Chris Middleton and Tom Horner asked to operate as full-backs. But West, seeking a third win in four league games, started well and Ash Woods snaffled an opening goal inside five minutes – excellent pressing from Moloney led to the Woods firing a fierce shot beyond Dane Smith in the Abbey goal.

The excellent Moloney, starting for the first time this season, stung Smith’s palms not long afterwards with an effort from the edge of the area, but it was Woods who doubled the visitors’ lead halfway through the first period. Callum Jones’ through pass was met by the West hitman, who threaded the ball past Smith from an acute angle.

Kris Holt had the ball in the Abbey net just after the half hour, but the goal – again crafted by a fine Moloney pass – was ruled out by the linesman. And the officials played another key role moments before the break as Abbey were handed a lifeline. West couldn’t clear a set piece and the home side won a penalty when a forward was bundled over in the area, but the excellent Andrew Jones flung himself to his left to block the effort and ensure West held a two-goal lead at the interval.

West suffered a further blow when Tom Horner was unable to resume after the break, with Ben Steer replacing him and Ben Woods dropping back to left-back. It appeared that this was one withdrawal too many as West’s momentum stalled in an attritional second period. Abbey went close when a cross to the far post was headed narrowly wide, but the majority of the second half was soporific until West awoke in the final 15 minutes, with Woods twice going close to what would have been a deserved hat-trick.

Abbey halved the arrears in the final minute of normal time when Regan punished West’s failure to clear a corner. But there was barely enough time for the away support to bite their nails before Moloney ensured West’s excellent record at the Abbey Stadium would continue – the former Droylsden man pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box and sweeping a half-volley into the corner of the net.

West: A. Jones, Middleton, Horner (Steer ht), Tinker, Forbes, Eckersley, B. Woods, C. Jones, A. Woods (McLaughlin 87), Holt, Moloney (Dale 90+4).

West media man of the match: Ash Woods.

Listen to our post-match reaction podcast here, or view a gallery of images here.

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