by Robert Lee · 08/05/2018
Monday 7th May 2018, NWCFL Premier Division
West 4 (Rogers 5, Woods 13, Kay 45+1, Rydings 65)
Maine Road 3 (Davison 63, Coop 86, 88)
West survived a late Maine Road comeback to claim a first win at Brookburn Road against their neighbours, whose relegation to the First Division was confirmed on a sweltering afternoon in M21.
A club record crowd saw West race into a three-goal half-time lead through Mark Rogers, Ashley Woods and Matty Kay, and though Declan Rydings immediately responded to Ben Davison’s goal after the interval, Road leading scorer Jack Coop scored twice late on to ensure a frantic finale.
In classic West style, it was a dramatic conclusion that was out of keeping with the rest of the game – Steve Settle’s side could have led by more than three at the break, and looked entirely comfortable in the second half until Coop’s double set alarm bells ringing.
As against Ashton Athletic on Saturday, West took an early lead from a set-piece, but in a more typical fashion than Martin Pearson’s first-minute own-goal at the weekend – Rogers rising highest to head home Kay’s left-wing corner.
West could have had the game won inside the first 15 minutes as the visitors struggled to escape their own area. Moments after Rogers’ opener, Ben Steer’s volley struck the near post following excellent wing work by Rydings, then Kay was narrowly off-target from the edge of the box. But a second goal did arrive when a flowing move involving Rydings and Kay ended with Woods shooting low inside Alex Fowell’s near post from 25 yards.
The luckless Steer struck the other post on the half-hour mark with a wicked effort from the corner of the box, but there was some foreshadowing when Road broke away on two occasions – first, Coop clipped wide of the far post when one-on-one with Ashley, then the same player was denied by the West keeper’s legs.
In between, Tom Bailey poked wide from inside the area and Rogers fired over from another corner, but West did add a third moments before the interval when derby specialist Kay, arriving perfectly to meet Steer’s low cross, turned in his fourth goal against Maine Road.
The sides exchanged goals just after the hour – Davison tapping in a cross from the left and Rydings curling over Fowells and into the far corner – but the second period appeared to be meandering to a close. The pace dropped in the face of the oppressive heat, with the referee halting proceedings with ten minutes remaining for a second drinks break.
West were playing their second game in three days in blistering temperatures, but Maine Road had a free weekend and this perhaps told in the final stages as Coop grabbed a quickfire double. His first goal, converting a cross from the left, appeared to be a consolation, but when he shot high past Ashley from the edge of the box two minutes later, West nerves began to jangle all over again.
Road’s relegation had long since been inevitable with Abbey Hey easing to victory a few miles east, but they pressed in an attempt to preserve their unbeaten record at Brookburn Road and almost snatched an equaliser when a volley from the edge of the box flew narrowly over.
But West saw out six minutes of stoppage time to celebrate a fourth derby win, with their local rivals ending the bank holiday weekend contemplating a first relegation in 16 years.
West: Ashley, Olapade, Rydings, Eckersley, Rogers, Middleton (Botchey 76), Steer (Dickenson 67), Kay (Whyment 64), Bailey, Woods, Mason. Not used: Reader, Eislet.