The Badgers take the lead but can't stop an impressive FC Isle of Man from scoring two in the second half to take the win.
FC Isle of Man 2 Brocton 1
North West Counties Division One South
30th October 2021
The long-awaited first league home game for FC Isle of Man fell to ourselves to provide the pantomime villain with the scene set to try and ruin the homecoming for the Ravens.
With a packed Bowl in Douglas full of 2000 Manx faithful, it was an intimidating and exciting atmosphere, but quietened very quickly as the Badgers took a very early lead. A corner from the right hand side whipped into the box was met by both Reg Smith and Ben Haddaway. However, Ben swept home from close range and it crept under the home keeper for 1-0 lead. With a lead, the Badgers looked to soak up the pressure and hit the home side with counter attacks. With McVey marshalling the Manx backline and making the most of the slick 3G surface, for the first 25 minutes, the home side provided deep balls into the box from wing positions but neither their top striker Doyle or Davies could muster much direct action on Allsopp.
In fact, the counter play for Brocton almost paid off in the 35th minute as Connor Haddaway jinked past the defender 30 yards out and hit a fantastic curling effort towards the top corner but Quirk in the FC Isle of Man goal, pulled a full length save to deny a second. A potential turning point in the game as the home side then laid siege to the Brocton goal for the remainder of the half. First a flicked header at the near post hit the top of the net, then some more pressure on the left hand side but Devoir and Luke Haddaway covered the challenge. On 43, Allsopp flicked a fantastic strike from Whitley onto the bar, but a minute later, Reg picked up a lose ball in midfield, only to see a diving challenge from Quirk dispossess him before he could take a shot. The ref continued into the 48th minute, with the home side piling the pressure but the Badgers resolve saw us enter half time at 1-0.
The second half started much as the first half ended with the Ravens on the front foot. Allsopp was called into action again from a Simpson drive and the defence supporting with clearances and simply not allowing a clear shot on goal from the home team. However, the Badgers counter twice first with Reg again floored on the edge of the box and then Curtis with a decent curling effort headed away. Despite the resilience shown by the Badgers, FC Isle of Man equalised to lift the crowd. On 60 mins, a cross from the right was met powerfully from Ravens skipper McVey with nothing Allsopp could do to stop it. Far from simply sitting in our own half, the Badgers pressed again with Reg unable to turn for a shot in a good position, and Cam Jackson with a great opportunity from a header 10 yards out but the keeper well placed. However, the best goal of the match sealed the points for the home side. A magnificent shot from Murray on the edge of the box hit the inside of the far post and it with Allsopp unable to do anything about it. At this point, with a fervent home crowd, we could have shrunk back and conceded more, but not with the new look team. The Badger make-shift defence restricted the home side to long distance shots and could have taken a point but the Ravens keeper saved low and late to another Reg shot.
Given the occasion and media hype (quite rightly) for the home side, the panto villain role could have been a small part for the Badgers. However, they stood firm, gave a fantastic account of themselves, and almost spoilt the happy ending for the home side !
Team; Allsopp, L Haddaway, Evans, Thomas, Devoir (c), B Haddaway, Griffiths, Curtis, C Haddaway, Smith, Jackson.
Subs Used: Douglas, Mousley, Williams
Sub Not Used: Triggs
Goal: B Haddaway