MATCH REPORT | West 2-2 Abbey Hey – West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC

MATCH REPORT | West 2-2 Abbey Hey

Saturday 24th February 2018, NWCFL Premier Division

West 2 (Woods 36, Bailey 87)
Abbey Hey 2 (Swallow 62, Watling 66)
Att: 411

Tom Bailey’s 29th goal of the season salvaged a point for West after Abbey Hey had stunned Brookburn Road with two goals in four second-half minutes.

West held the advantage after a scrappy opening period thanks to Ash Woods’ well-taken goal just after the half-hour, but strikes from Robert Swallow and Peter Watling looked set to earn Abbey a vital win. However, Bailey reacted quickest to Ben Steer’s long throw three minutes from time as West drew for only the second time this season.

A draw is a better result for the visitors – West slip a place to 17th, while Abbey hoist themselves out of the relegation zone on goal difference – but for Steve Settle’s side, there will be frustration at struggling to build on an impressive display in defeat at Runcorn Town in midweek. At the same time, though, West showed resolve to lift themselves off the canvas after Abbey’s disorientating one-two punch and eke out a point in a season where the outcome has usually been all or nothing.

Abbey had their tails up following last week’s win at home to Burscough and started the stronger – Watling flashed a menacing ball across the face of the goal, while Aaron Ashley had to be at his best to deny Ashford Blake’s half-volley at close range. West, meanwhile, were struggling for fluency and Bailey’s shot into the arms of Ross Haywood was their only moment of note in the opening half an hour.

West were destined to enter the interval ahead, though, and a goal materialised after 36 minutes. Steven Affleck was pivotal – his foray down the right wing resulting in Woods shifting the ball onto his left foot, then finishing over Haywood and into the far corner.

West emerged from the break with the whiff of a second goal in their nostrils – Bailey had two good chances to double the lead, first volleying into an Abbey defender following Steer’s cross, then seeing his effort shovelled behind at the far post after a long throw from the same source. But this time, it was Abbey who produced a goal out of nothing. Just after the hour mark, Swallow found himself in the clear and though Ashley got a hand to his effort, the ball rolled inexorably into the net.

Before the home side could react, they were behind. Blake’s low cross was miskicked by Lanre Olapade, and the unsympathetic Watling hammered the ball past Ashley to give the visitors the lead. West now found themselves clinging onto the game for dear life – Watling had a free kick deflected over and a sprawling Ashley prevented Peter Boyle from converting Blake’s lofted cross.

However, after losing at Pavilions in the closing stages on Wednesday, West were on the right side of late drama as Bailey stabbed another Steer delivery over the line. The relief was palpable amongst another bumper Brookburn Road crowd, and there was almost more to celebrate when substitute Carlos Mendes Gomes caused panic in the Abbey box. But West had to be content with a point which, if nothing else, further increases the importance of next week’s meeting with struggling AFC Liverpool.

West: Ashley, Affleck, Tinker, Olapade, Bayunu (Slaven 67), Middleton, Steer, Sergeant, Bailey, Woods, Shaw (Mendes Gomes 73). Not used: Whyment, Reader, McKenzie.