Report: West 3-2 Maine Road

Monday 30th August 2021, NWCFL First Division South

West 3 (Elliott 47, C. Jones 58, Grewal 73)
Maine Road 2 (Lyndon 63, Keyworth 77, Pogson sent off 24)
Att: 890

West saw off a comeback from ten-man Maine Road to claim the spoils in a dramatic South Manchester derby.

A record Step Places Stadium crowd of 890 was treated to a rollercoaster second half following Jake Pogson’s dismissal halfway through the first period, but Chris Rowley may have a different view after seeing his side almost throw away a two-goal lead on two occasions.

However, the West boss will also reflect on a successful bank holiday weekend in which his team tasted victory against their neighbours for the first time since 2018, securing back-to-back wins in the process. And the three points proved to be even more important on a day in which the First Division South top six all won, with West remaining in second position.

Following Saturday’s 3-0 win against FC Isle of Man, where three goals in the final half an hour sealed the points, West were strangely subdued in the opening period. The sole clear opportunity of the first half came inside the first quarter of an hour – a stray pass in West’s third freed Ben Mooney on goal, but Andrew Jones crucially saved with his feet to keep the scores level.

The other key incident of the first 45 minutes was of a different nature entirely, with Pogson taking the long walk back to the dressing room for a high foot on Tom Westall.

Even with a man advantage for the final 20 minutes of the first half, West struggled to create clear chances with the visitors defending resolutely. This didn’t last long after the interval, though, as West opened the scoring in simple fashion – Ben Elliott nodded Westall’s cross from the left past keeper Peter Monteith and into the corner of the net.

West appeared to be coasting eleven minutes later, when Billy Matthews stole in behind the Road defence to put a chance on a plate for Callum Jones. But in a fixture that has now seen 43 goals in 13 games, a twist was always likely to materialise and the visitors set nerves jangling just after the hour when Reece Lyndon beat Andrew Jones to the ball and prodded over the line.

Those nerves appeared to be settled when Aarron Grewal converted a Matty Cook cross at the second attempt, but almost immediately Road were back in touching distance – Joseph Keyworth spectacularly converting a cross with his back to goal.

Grewal had a chance to win the game once and for all when he seized on a ball in the box, but the visiting defence were able to clear. And Road almost punished West for their carelessness in the closing stages – first a header rebounded off the post before a last-gasp corner was fired wide with Monteith joining the attack.

But West were able to breathe a sigh of relief as the referee called time on proceedings, and can now look forward to Saturday’s home game with Brocton on the back of a four-game winning run that has placed them among the First Division South frontrunners.

West: A. Jones, Cook, Westall, Delaney (Gabidon 60), Tinker, Heathcote, Grewal, C. Jones, Elliott (Eme 78), Davis, Matthews (Cottee 60). Not used: Dibble, Jackson.

Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Man of the Match: Matty Cook.

Full gallery of photos from Simon Cook.

Post-match reaction from Chris Rowley