Didsbury Deflated as Friday Claims Saturday Hat-Trick
By Kim Miles
Great team performance sinks second in league.
Formby took on Didsbury Northern this week in their final game before the Christmas break. This is a side that Formby have particularly strong feelings about wanting to beat, and, in contrast to the somewhat limp performance against leaders Wakefield the week before, they produced an excellent all-round team display that resulted in a convincing win.
It was not a pleasant day, weatherwise as the game started, with a blustery wind for Formby to play into, and some rain, but the pitch was nice and slick and the conditions improved as the match wore on. An early Josh Brooker
interception and transfer to Felipe Davis-Guzman
on the left saw him deliver a pass into the circle to Josh Birtles, whose reverse-stick shot just missed to the right.Will Miles
then found Davis-Guzman who carried the ball into the right corner before beating a couple of defenders and laying it back to Rob Tinker
to fire into the circle, but he lifted the ball dangerously to end that attack. A major setback then occurred in the fifth minute, as a long ball through the middle caught the Formby defence dozing. Harry Williams
was awake, however, and put in a tremendous tackle just inside his circle on the Formby left. Unfortunately, he lost his stick in the process and was therefore unable to pick up the loose ball, and had to look on helplessly as the visitors retrieved it and found an unmarked man in front of goal, who gave Sam Birtles
The Formby team buckled down and exerted increasing pressure on the visiting defence for the next few minutes, and eventually they cracked. Tom Hickson
won the ball on the 22 and was fouled. Miles found Sam Mackarell
advancing and her fed it out to Tinker on the right, whose ball into the circle found Birtles with his back to goal. He spun round and let go a reverse-stick shot that may well have gone in, but Sean Friday
made sure with a neat deflection that evaded the ‘keeper comfortably.
4 minutes later Birtles thought he had won a penalty corner, but the foot in the circle evaded detection by the officials, and Didsbury caught Formby on the break, and were awarded a penalty corner themselves as a Connel Capper
challenge in the circle was deemed unfair. Sam Birtles
met the drag-flick with his right boot and Miles picked up the ball and drove forward, but with numbers on his side, his pass failed to find its target for once.
Good work by Davis-Guzman created a shooting chance for Harry Pike
, but his shot missed well to the left. Didsbury then received a green card for a blatant push in the back on Mackarell, but responded by advancing on the left and winning a penalty corner of a Williams foot. Their effort from the corner missed the goal comfortably to the left.
A Birtles run into the visitors’ circle produced a pass-cum-shot that Friday got a deflection on, but in the process, he took most of the pace off the ball and sent it wide of the goal anyway. Miles and Brooker then worked the ball forward on the right and delivered it to Tinker, who found Birtles in the circle but his attempt at the shot barely made contact.
Birtles and Tinker combined in the Didsbuty circle but lost control of the ball. The clearance went straight to Tinker who found Ste Wright
in the circle, and he got a solid shot away that rebounded off the ‘keeper just out of Miles’s reach. Almost immediately Miles picked up a stray pass and attacked the circle, but as he fired it goalwards, it deflected off a Formby foot. In the final minute of the half, Tinker produced a precise short aerial to Miles, who set up Birtles in the circle and his shot was well saved by the ‘keeper.
As the half-time whistle went, Formby had enjoyed most of the attacking possession, and were slightly unlucky to be only level on goals.
In drier overhead conditions at the start of the second half, Mackarell was quickly into the action with an interception and run forward before finding Miles in the circle. His shot appeared to come off a defender’s foot but no whistle was forthcoming. Tinker and Brooker then combined to supply the ball to Birtles in the circle, whose attempt on goal was deflected away to the right. Shortly after this, Formby’s resources were depleted as Brooker, for the second time this season, led with his head and lived to regret doing so as he got a cut eyebrow and took no further part in the game.
An uncharacteristic giveaway by Mackarell saw Didsbury work the ball into a shooting position, but the eventual shot was high, wide and not very handsome. A few minutes later, Mackarell made amends, starting the move leading to Formby’s second goal with a forward pass down the left touchline to Birtles. He made some ground before firing it into the circle, to Pike, who controlled it well, then spun round and picked out Friday at the far post, who had an almost open goal and didn’t need any invitation to slot the ball into it.
Some slack defending from the restart saw Birtles called into action to kick clear, just before Didsbury received another green card for a badly-timed tackle from behind. Tinker was on hand with a fine tackle at the top of his circle after Miles had miscontrolled the ball. Right away, Didsbury’s ex-international was neatly robbed of the ball as he advanced towards half-way. Birtles carried the ball forward before passing to Davis-Guzman in the left channel, and he moved smoothly into the circle and fired past the advancing ‘keeper to make it 3-1.
Two minutes later it was 4-1, though Formby were fortunate that neither umpire seemed to think the ball had come off a Formby foot as they relieved Didsbury of possession on the left touchline and as Didsbury did what they do often – stood appealing rather than playing the whistle – the ball was transferred from Tinker to Wright to Miles on the right, who made ground into the circle, tried to pull the ball back but found a defender’s stick, but picked up the loose ball and laid it on a plate for Friday to complete his hat-trick from close range.
Once again, Formby relaxed a bit too much and some sloppy collective defending conceded a penalty corner. Fortunately, Birtles was easily up to a straightish effort, and deflected it away for a long corner. They played the ball out to the left and when it was fired into the circle, the ball deflected into Mackarell’s shin and Didsbury could try again. This time they tried a deflection down the middle, but sent the ball well wide to the right of goal.
Formby were nearly in business courtesy of a long Capper aerial to Wright in the left corner, but his cross was lifted just enough to attract a dangerous play whistle. Play switched back to the Formby circle and yet another penalty corner was conceded. This time they tried to play the ball back to the injector, but Formby were alive to this tactic and Sam Birtles
and Capper combined to clear.
It wasn’t long before Formby were defending another short corner. This time they tried to slip the ball left before firing at goal, but the shot was deflected well wide to the right of goal.
With just over 5 minutes left Mackarell found Davis-Guzman on the left with a long forward pass. He beat a man and slipped the ball into the circle to Pike, but he couldn’t get his shot on target. The restart 16 brought a quick break by Didsbury, and some lax defending saw Formby’s hitherto excellent marking break down completely, and a couple of passed found a man free in front of goal, and he smashed it in.
Didsbury thought they now had a chance, and immediately pressed forward and won another penalty corner, but Sam Birtles
saved well to his right. Formby then decided the best place to defend was at their opponents’ end of the pitch, and they retained possession for most of the remaining 4 minutes, even managing an attempt on goal, when Tinker and Miles exchanged passes before feeding the ball to Birtles in the circle. Sadly, his shot was deflected wide left of target, but Formby played out time in possession without any further alarms.