by Matthew Durrant · 20/04/2019
|West Didsbury & Chorlton
|Ryan Eiselt (2)
Zachary Cooper (28)
Jesurun Uchegbucam (72)
Daragh Walshe (88)
Results elsewhere meant that West’s fight against relegation could’ve been all but over, but an assured performance from David Powell’s side meant that they lived to fight another day – but could only claw back a point on their 4 point deficit with two games left to play.
Any pre-match nerves were almost immediately allayed when West broke Litherland’s defensive line to fashion a chance that was palmed wide – only for the resultant corner to be headed home emphatically at the back post by Ryan Eiselt. For the second time in two games, the defender managed to find space at the back post to give his side an early lead. He wouldn’t last the 90, with a knock in the second half seeing him replaced, but there can be no doubt in his efforts against fighting relegation given his relatively prolific form in front of goal and his performances as part of a cohesive backline.
Results elsewhere at this point were yet to turn against West, but it began to look as though the home side may put Chorlton to the sword. Their repeated efforts to spring the offside trap were thwarted by the flag, but as the clock neared the half-hour mark they finally managed to make things click. Unfortunately for REMYCA, their number 9 could only slice wide when running through for a 1 on 1 with Will Jones. A sigh of relief was exhaled by the away support – and they’d soon be exalting their side for one of the goals of the season.
With the ball dipping in the bright sun from 25 yards, it looked as though a West foray forward had all but been dealt with. Zac Cooper – who looked composed throughout – knew differently though, as hit a wicked dipping volley from waist height, sailing over a packed defence and high over the REMYCA keeper before swinging downward rapidly, leaving him stranded despite being on the edge of his 6 yard box. It was a goal worthy of any occasion, and one that the 72 in attendance are likely to remember for long after the result of the game has faded from memory. Mobbed by his team-mates, it was a moment of magic from nothing, and exactly what was needed to settle the nerves ahead of half time.
The second period began in a manner that reflected the Easter heatwave, with both sides showing signs of struggling with the heat. West’s forward line of Walshe, Hall, and Uchegbulam carried on battling, supplied eagerly whenever possible by those behind them. Pressure often lead to possession in the opposition box, but a mixture of overplaying, pressure, and scuffed chances meant that the the lead stayed at two. News of Winsford’s lead at Winsford trickled through to the away support just as Uchegbulam bundled in from a free-kick: the celebrations in the stands tempered by the understanding that there were still much bigger challenges ahead for this side if this campaign is not to end in disappointment. In truth, a goal was no less than Uchegbulam deserved, his energy and invention constantly stretching the opposition defence to make room for the similarly intelligent Hall, who was withdrawn before he could add his name to the scoresheet.
With minds already turning towards a Manchester derby on Easter Monday against Abbey Hey, Darragh Walshe opened his account in the dying moments. Working as a target man, Walshe has been instrumental in the these back to back wins, sewing together many of his side’s work in the opposition half. Beating his man, he headed down into the ground leaving the Litherland keeper with no chance – which, in truth, was the case for all four blots on his copybook for this Bank Holiday fixture. His opposite number, Will Jones, took a clean sheet back to Manchester: he’s worked far harder for a lot less this season, but he and his back four can be happy at having repeatedly nullified Litherland’s attempted at breaking the lines. At the final whistle, West sat 3 points from safety – but knowing that two wins in their next two games should just about be enough to secure their safety, given the number of sides yet to be mathematically safe of the drop. While there is likely to be plenty of permutation chat before the campaign ends, there’s no avoiding the fact that this was a superb performance from a West side that could’ve so easily wilted in the heat.
Team sheets to follow.