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Maine Road 1 – 0 Winsford United – FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay

Maine Road squeaked deservedly through to the Preliminary Round of the cup with a hotly disputed (sound the cliché alarm!) last minute penalty converted by Rob Brocklehurst.  Prior to that, they had been the better side and engineered the most promising positions, but had not been able to find the composure to deliver a telling final ball or make use of a number of promising shooting positions.

Perhaps they should have played goalkeeper Greg Hall up front.  Hall has returned to Maine Road temporarily as a goalkeeper whilst regular No 1 Andrew Jones, who had over 140 unbroken appearances for the club, was on holiday.  Hall had previously left the club because he wasn’t being allowed to play up front as he would have liked due to his goalkeeping proficiency – he promptly signed for Trafford FC, in a higher league, as a striker and scored plenty.  Indeed, in the original tie between these two sides on Saturday, Road brought on a substitute keeper with 10 minutes to go and sent Hall up front, and within 3 minutes he had made enough of a nuisance of himself to create an opening for Road to level and grab this replay.

You’ll recognise the name Maine Road of course, it being the former home of Manchester City, and the club was set up in 1955 as a City Supporters team.  Their ground, on the edge of Moss Side, is 5 minutes from the old Kippax terrace (now sadly houses) but tonight we are playing at Cheadle Town FC as the Brantingham Road pitch is being relaid so that City’s Academy sides can play on it – links between the two clubs being rejoined?

The team has a reputation of being exceptionally youthful, with manager Ian Walker and coach Derek Barber moulding raw talent into a useful side who play the right way.  Said to be motivated by only being paid any expenses if they win, they are almost always finish in the top half of the table, although they have only one point from four games thus far this season.

Winsford, meanwhile, are based in leafier Cheshire, and their team (it is widely thought) is more expensively assembled.  They had a good season in 2010-11 and are thought to be aiming for promotion.  Certainly, a record of three wins from four games suggests they will be in the mix come the end of April.

The club’s start to the campaign and relative wealth are not the only contrasts on offer tonight.  Listening to the accents of the players remind me of Sally Webster from Coronation Street.  Aficionados of the Manchester soap will know that for the most part Webster’s voice is as it should be, from an urban Mancunian area.  Sometimes though, usually when she’s angry with Rosie or Sophie, she slips into her natural Sally Dynevor accent, that of a slightly posher Cheshire-ite.  Tonight’s tie is very Webster vs Dynevor on the pitch.

The game itself is slow to ignite, and for half an hour there is very little of note until Road’s Phil Coffin put a free header, that he ought to have hit the target with, well wide.  It signalled the start of a dangerous spell of possession for the home side that they couldn’t convert into gilt edged chances.  The pace of Eddie Struminskyj was particularly causing problems for the Winsford back line but he couldn’t direct a shot from a tight angle goalwards.

He missed the best chance of a goal from open play on 57 minutes too when a deep cross fell to him at the far post.  He volleyed into the side netting.

Winsford were having a poor night, and a couple of snap shots aside, couldn’t create anything until the 83rd minute when a substitute’s free header went straight into Hall’s arms.  That said, Road’s profligacy in front of goal looked likely to provide a further half an hour of play until a crucial referee’s intervention on 90 minutes.

The ball into the box appeared to be fairly harmless but a shout for ‘handball’ went up, and the man in black pointed at the spot.  Winsford were furious and I would have to confess to not seeing it myself as I was in a terrible position, looking through a crowd of players.  That said, body language of both sides suggested it might be a bit soft.  Handball decisions, and how referees have loosened the definition of ‘deliberate’ down the years is a bugbear of mine, but I’ll save that for another day.

In any case, Brocklehurst made no mistake with the penalty, and Maine Road celebrate with another home tie that won’t be played at home, against Ashton Athletic on September 3rd.  Manchester City and Sally Webster fans at a loose end will do well to go and cheer on this committed side who always attempt to get the ball down and play.

One of our heroes of last season’s FA Cup, you can follow Jonathan Haggart on Twitter.

1 Comment
  1. Excellent stuff, Jonathan. Thanks for the coverage.

    Sods law though, we’ve just heard that the recent mix of rain & sun has meant that we can go on our pitch a week early, so we will play the Ashton Athletc tie at Brantingham Road.

    Been down this morning doing a bit of painting – pitch looks magnificent.

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