MATCH REPORT | St Helens Town 1 – 2 West
Saturday 23 November, Macron Cup Third Round
|St Helens Town||1-2||West Didsbury & Chorlton|
|James Barron (59)||HT: 0-0
|Dylan Moloney (48)
Lee Grimshaw (69)
|Starting XI||Starting XI|
|Carl Williams||1||Andrew Jones|
|Jesse Robinson||2||Matthew Cook|
|Seico Camara||3||Zachary Cooper|
|Daniel Lomax||4||Joshua Tinker|
|George Lindley||5||Jamie Forbes|
|Moses Yoak||6||Matthew Eckersley|
|Christy Devlin||7||Matthew Argent-Barnes|
|Gedeao Varela||8||Lee Gavin|
|James Barron||9||Lee Grimshaw|
|Neil Weaver||10||Kristian Holt|
|Lewis Fearns||11||Dylan Moloney|
|Jose Ferreira||S1||Matthew Boland|
|Morgan Onuh||S2||Christopher Middleton|
|Wesley Nelson||S3||Ashley Woods|
West put a dour first half behind them to progress in the Playermatch.com Cup at the expense of a St Helens Town side that offered stiff opposition throughout.
Taking a threadbare squad to Merseyside, Brad Cooke used this cup tie to test out some different tactics. Following last weekend’s limp display against Wythenshawe Town – a game that ended in abandonment due to injury – this opportunity to trial something new was much needed. Argent-Barnes was handed a starting berth, and made the most of the chance by being West’s most consistent attacking threat in the first period, teaming up with Lee Grimshaw – making a rare start as a central striker – to be the most potent sign of any early attacking intent.
However, it took around half an hour before either side had a shot on target – Lee Gavin’s effort rolling into the keeper’s arms, shortly before a quick ball across the face of goal by Forbes was touched away from advancing West players by the St Helens Town number 1.
It was the home side who should’ve taken the lead, with a ball from the right finding a blue shirt unmarked, and with the goal at his mercy. Thankfully for West, his header was woefully miscued, with Andrew Jones hardly forced into making a save when a goal looked certain. At the other end, Lee Gavin could’ve broken the deadlock when a deft flick left him one on one, but a blasted effort was expertly parried away – and Gavin would end the half by being substituted, after pulling up injured from an innocuous coming together.
With Boland on the pitch for the second period, West almost immediately took the lead. Two minutes into the half, a bouncing ball forward fell into the stride of Dylan Moloney – who was menacing throughout the final 45 minutes – who hammered high into the net past the onrushing keeper, leaving him with no chance.
West could’ve added to that goal several times in the following 10 minutes, with some of the finest attacking interchanges of the season taking place as West looked to bring some tiki-taka to Ruskin Park. Joshua Tinker may well feel aggrieved to have not earned a penalty for being pushed in the box when the ball looked certain to reach his head from a cross, and another chance was lifted over with the defence unable to get near the West attackers.
The pressure wasn’t to last, and a couple of swift St Helens counter-attacks saw the game leveled. From a set-piece, the ball was put across the face of goal and James Barron forced it home unchallenged. Parity would only last 10 minutes, with Argent-Barnes again having a say on proceedings – his powerful effort could only be pushed away by the goalkeeper, and Grimshaw reacted quicker than the defenders to slam the free ball home to give West a lead that would remain for the rest of the game.
While clear chances were thin on the ground – a Boland effort that struck the crossbar was the main talking point after the goals – the quality of play by West left the vocal travelling support with a lot to cheer. Captain Kris Holt was a particular bright spark, offering steel at the back and menace in attack, but in truth there wasn’t a West player who put in anything less than a strong performance. While there are still question marks over the side’s ability to turn domination into goals, this is a squad that has reached the last eight of the competition without ever really needing to get out of second gear. A visit from Sandbach awaits in the quarter-finals.