by Matthew Durrant · 14/11/2017
West Didsbury & Chorlton (Joseph Shaw 53) 1 – 4 (Ryan Malone 33, George Mannion 47, Brandon Moores 68, Christopher Bandell 73) Barnton
A quick internet search shows that it was a theologian named Thomas Fuller who first said ‘”The darkest hour comes just before the dawn”. Writing back in 1650, it seems unlikely that he had a NWCFL game against Barnton FC in the year of our lord 2017 as being applicable to the phrase. West fans will have been hoping that a temporary floodlight failure that delayed kick-off, leaving Brookburn Road in complete darkness until way after 8 o’clock, was that said hour before the dawn. There would be no such luck.
Yet to win in the league this season, Steve Settle and his management team will have been confident of righting a run of 1 win in 6 against Barnton. That man Fuller again sums up West’s current situation well, writing “Health is not valued till sickness comes” way back when. With the same amount of injured first teamers in the stands – Harry Hagon, Aaron Ashley, and Ben Steer all watching on while Johnny Poizer, Daryl Weston, and Georgi Whyment were the only three available subs – this was always going to be a tougher task than it looked on paper. The return of Ash Woods to the team, having re-signed on dual registration from Atherton Collieries on the weekend, gave heart – and he carved one of the first real chances in the game, hitting the post from an angle that looked too narrow to get a real shot away.
The opening half hour played out in the kind of manner that has at times been sorely lacking for West this season, with the defence soaking up pressure and attacks not being too gung-ho; this would change on 32 minutes, however, as Ryan Malone pinged a ball from outside the box that mayor may not have taken a deflection: looping high, it dropped just enough to clip the underside of the bar as it went in. Not only would West go in to the break a goal down, the build up to the goal also saw Richmond Botchey pick up an injury that would require an immediate substitution – Daryl Weston his replacement.
With the second period starting roughly around the time that it was originally slated to end, Barnton started like they wanted to get it over with as soon as possible, doubling their lead in the 47th minute through a smart free kick that left George Mannion to drill home at the far post. 0-2, and a mountain to climb for West.
Your man Thomas Fuller also said “If it were not for hopes, the heart would break”. Three minutes after going two down, something to stop the heart from breaking: a throw in, a flick on, and Joe Shaw volleying home. A real moment of class, with a difficult finish giving the first double digit attendance of the season reason to cheer, and the belief that the tide may be about to turn. Sadly, those hopes would subside very quickly indeed.
With first choice keeper Aaron Ashley unavailable through injury, the last thing that West needed was back-up Conrad Betton – who had little opportunity to stop either goal to this point – seemingly picked up an injury through a goalkick, or from a resulting Barnton chance. Either way, the end result was the same, with the visitors having a 3-1 lead on the 68th minute through Brandon Moores Betton would battle on, only for a long ball forward to be chased down and, unable to move freely enough to make an impact, Christopher Bandell headed over the stranded keeper. He would leave on crutches shortly after, with midfielder Matty Kay having to put on the gloves.
West chased the game, but it always seemed far beyond them. Subs Whyment and Poizer nearly combined towards the end of the game to score what would’ve been a wonderful consolation; Georgi beating a man before a wonderfully hit cross eluded defenders, goalkeeper, and, crucially, Poizer at the back post, who would’ve had an unchallenged diving header into an open net if he could’ve connected.
The end result can’t really be disputed, and the visitors were well worth their three points, but there are big questions heading into the busy winter months for West. With a trip to 1874 Northwich waiting on Saturday, answers need to be found fast. Maybe our friend Thomas Fuller could be the person to look to at this difficult time; “Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart”. Yeah, maybe it is time to Google a different theologian for some inspirational quotes if we are to turn this around.
Betton (Whyment), Mason, Botchey (Weston), Tinker, Sergeant, Potts (c), Shaw (Poizer), Rydings, Bailey, Kay, Woods