Report: West 3-0 FC Isle of Man

Saturday 28th August 2021, NWCFL First Division South

West 3 (Heathcote pen 64, Grewal 83, Davis 85)
FC Isle of Man 0 (Quaye sent off 87)
Att: 460

West moved up to second in the First Division South with an excellent three points against FC Isle of Man.

The game was in the balance up until the final half an hour, but goals from Sam Heathcote, Aarron Grewal and Rhain Davis secured a third consecutive win and a perfect start to the bank holiday weekend.

The margin of victory seemed unlikely after a first half where the visitors had a penalty awarded and then withdrawn before hitting the bar and post in quick succession, but Chris Rowley’s side moved up the gears after the break and were deserved winners.

Looking to build on the momentum from nine goals and six points last week, West started quickly but clear chances were at a premium. Davis forced a save from visiting keeper Dean Kearns before Billy Matthews’ ball across the box narrowly evaded a crucial touch.

But the Ravens, who also came into the game unbeaten in the league, grew into proceedings and were left cursing their luck after a crucial incident midway through the first period. The referee pointed to the spot after Furo Davies was upended by Tom Westall, only for his assistant to intervene and point out that contact was made outside the area. West blew a sigh of relief and easily cleared the resulting free kick.

Isle of Man then had margins against them again as the half drew to a close, as Jack Camarda’s drive was tipped onto the bar by Andrew Jones before Jack McVey struck a post with a follow-up effort.

If that was a wake-up call, it had the desired effect as West were much improved after the restart. The introduction of Aarron Grewal, making his first appearance in over two weeks, was crucial and the West winger had a key role to play in the opening goal. His feet were too quick for the Isle of Man defence, and after he was brought down in the box Sam Heathcote rolled home his tenth goal of the season from the spot.

West were now the dominant force and could have had a second shortly afterwards, when Ben Elliott’s shot was shovelled away by Kearns at his near post. But in the closing stages, another subsitute made a vital contribution shortly after his introduction. Ezeikel Eme replaced Matthews, and two minutes later collected the ball in the right channel, drove into the box and picked out Grewal, who clinically found the net.

A rampant West added gloss with five minutes remaining – Josh Tinker won the ball in midfield and with white shirts queuing up for a third goal, Liam Delaney’s cross to the far post was converted by Rhain Davis in front of an ecstatic shed end.

The visitors, staring down the barrel of a first competitive defeat, endured a miserable conclusion to the afternoon as Sean Quaye was dismissed for a second bookable offence. West had chances to add a fourth, as Kearns rushed out to beat Grewal to a ball and Elliott had a shot charged down. But three was enough, and the statistics – three wins in a row, three clean sheets in a row, 13 goals without reply over four games – make very pleasant reading ahead of bank holiday Monday’s South Manchester derby.

West: A. Jones, Cook, Westall, Tinker, Dibble, Heathcote, Davis, C. Jones (Grewal 56), Elliott, Ryan (Delaney 75), Matthews (Eme 81). Not used: Lewis, Jackson.

Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Man of the Match: Aarron Grewal.

Full gallery of photos from Simon Cook.

Post-match reaction from Chris Rowley