MATCH REPORT | Hanley Town 6-2 West – West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC

MATCH REPORT | Hanley Town 6-2 West

Saturday 27th January 2018, NWCFL Premier Division

Hanley Town 6 (Thompson 12, 17, 75, Stair 37, Shelley 61, Conlon 70)
West 2 (Bailey 34, Steer 45)
Att: 106

A sluggish start ultimately cost West as Hanley Town ran away with the points on another frustrating away day.

West had barely laid a glove on Hanley by the time Neville Thompson had put the home side two goals ahead after 17 minutes, and though West rallied – Tom Bailey and Ben Steer pulling goals back before the interval, either side of a Hanley third through Theo Stair – the Staffordshire side picked the visitors off in the second period. Daniel Shelley and Michael Conlon scored before Thompson completed his hat-trick to extinguish West’s recent revival. It was the perfect tonic for the home side, though, who ended a seven-game winless run to climb into the top five.

It was another afternoon on the road in which very little seemed to go right – already missing Jack Sergeant through illness, Steve Settle was forced into two substitutions inside the first 40 minutes due to injuries to Anthony Potts and Ryan Eiselt.

The home side began ominously and Stair passed up two chances to open the scoring – stinging James Hodges’ palms almost immediately following the kick-off, and then volleying Mackenzie Faulkner’s cross wildly over at the far post. Thompson exhibited a more finely-tuned radar after 12 minutes when he had tapped home unmarked in the six-yard box, and again five minutes later. The linesman’s flag went up, then down again, and Thompson’s conversion of Faulkner’s cross was allowed to stand despite West protests.

By this point, Hanley keeper Mick Allen would have needed binoculars to make out most of the action, but he was beaten just after the half-hour as Bailey hauled West back into the game with his 28th goal of the season. Cavell Coo’s centre from the left was nodded down by Ash Woods, and Allen was ruled to have failed to keep Bailey’s effort from crossing the line as West were on the right side of the assistant’s decision, as against AFC Darwen in midweek.

Bailey’s goal appeared to rile Stair, who completed his personal mission to score three minutes later when he slalomed into the West area and around Hodges before finding the net. Hanley prepared to enter the break with a two-goal cushion, but Ben Steer had other ideas – seconds before the interval, he added another entry to his burgeoning collection of high-quality goals when he curled the ball into the top-left corner from outside the box.

The moments before and after the break were West’s best period of the game – the visitors had the first real chance of the second period when Cavell Coo narrowly curled over from the left-hand side of the area. But Hanley ended the game as a contest on the hour mark. After Hodges had been booked for bringing down Conlon on the edge of the area, Shelley’s free-kick cannoned off Coo and into the net.

The home side were now rampant and had time to score two more goals. Conlon pipped Steer to the best goal of the afternoon when his piledriver from 25 yards flew into the top-right corner with Hodges rooted to the spot. Finally, Thompson completed his treble after combining with Conlon on a counter-attack as the scoreline skewed a little too far in the home side’s favour.

A match which had simmered all afternoon boiled over in stoppage time – a scuffle resulted in Woods and Nia Bayunu entering the referee’s notebook along with Hanley’s Joshua Bristow. West return to home comforts next weekend, but the assignments don’t get any easier as promotion-chasing Charnock Richard visit Brookburn Road.

West: Hodges, Affleck, Coo, Eiselt (McKenzie 40), Bayunu, Potts (Middleton 25), Steer (Whyment 73), Slaven, Bailey, Shaw, Woods. Not used: O’Donnell.