by Robert Lee · 14/08/2019
Tuesday 13th August 2019, NWCFL First Division South
West 1 (A. Woods 28)
Stockport Town 0
Ash Woods’ first goal of the season was enough to see off Stockport Town and propel West into the First Division South promotion places.
Woods’ clinical strike, just before the half-hour mark, secured a third win in four in all competitions. West passed up a host of second-half chances to make the game safe, but though Andrew Jones produced excellent saves in both halves, Brad Cooke’s side were professional enough to ensure the evening was not quite as uncomfortable as it could have been.
Still, coming after the euphoria of the weekend’s FA Cup win at Squires Gate, this was a sobering reminder of the league campaign’s weekly grind. The visitors’ refusal to go away meant the game was permanently in the balance, and Cooke was forced into two first-half changes after Zac Cooper and Lee Gavin were withdrawn with injuries. And after Cooke had made a third change in the second half, Lee Grimshaw was forced off in stoppage time resulting in West playing out the closing moments with ten men.
Cooke made just one alteration from the weekend, new signing Jake Kenny stepping in for the unavailable Matthew Cook at right-back. Kenny made a positive first impression with a excellent pass down the right to find Grimshaw, who cut into the box before firing straight at Town keeper Andrei Stinca.
The Lions, hunting for their first win of the season, carried a threat on the counter and created a clear opening when a forward ran through on goal, but Jones rushed from his line to block well with his feet. Town crafted another chance shortly afterwards when a dangerous cross was bundled behind at the far post, but this jolted West into life and Chris Middleton, who opened the scoring at the weekend, almost repeated the trick when his header from a Boland corner was saved.
Another excellent midweek Brookburn Road crowd didn’t have to wait much longer for a goal – Zac Cooper’s cross found Woods on the edge of the box, and the West hitman swivelled before arrowing in a low shot that gave Stinca so little chance it was almost unfair.
— West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC ️️ (@WD_CFC) 14 August 2019
But West’s momentum was checked by a pair of enforced substitutions before the break. First, Cooper took a knock and was replaced by Ben Woods, before Gavin couldn’t continue and was forced off, with Callum Jones taking his place.
The home side were still adjusting after the interval – it took until the 56th minute for a shot of any description, with Ben Woods running in on goal and firing over from the edge of the area.
West began to reassert control but a second goal failed to arrive, with Boland passing up a trio of presentable opportunities – firing wide when found by an Ash Woods cross, then shooting too close to Stinca on two other occasions.
The longer West’s lead remained at one, the greater the threat of a Town equaliser, and Jones had to be at his best to shovel a shot behind at the near post as the Lions threatened again on the counter-attack. At the other end, Josh Tinker had an effort deflected wide, but West strangled the life out of the game in the final ten minutes, ultimately easing to a valuable win and a second clean sheet of the season despite Grimshaw’s late exit.
One-nil to West is one of the rarer scorelines sighted at Brookburn Road – this was the first such home result since a win over Abbey Hey in March 2017 – but this is the sort of hard-earned victory that will be invaluable if West are to celebrate promotion in nine months’ time.
West: A. Jones, Kenny, Cooper (B. Woods 36), Tinker, Middleton, Eckersley, Grimshaw, Gavin (C. Jones 44), A. Woods, Holt, Boland (Moloney 73). Not used: Horner, Steer.
West media man of the match: Kris Holt.