In their final match of the season Charnock lost 5-3 at West Didsbury and Chorlton but despite the defeat they finished in sixth place in the league table. Carl Grimshaw, Mark Woods and Harvey Close scored the goals.
West Didsbury & Chorlton 5 Charnock Richard 3
Saturday 12th May 2018, North West Counties League Premier Division
WEST DIDSBURY & CHORLTON 5
CHARNOCK RICHARD 3
Team: Adam Halton, Spencer Bibby, James Walker, Ross O’Farrell (Nathan Fairhurst 65), Ryan Schofield (Tyler Rufus 80), Ashley Young, Matt Davison (Alex Dodd 83), Harvey Close, Carl Grimshaw, Mark Woods, Alex Ralph. Sub: (Not Used) Jordyn Fitton.
This was Charnock’s final game of the season and whilst the chances of finishing in the top two had disappeared during the injury crisis in March, there was still a chance of finishing in sixth position in the table. Prior to the game Charnock were one point ahead of 1874 Northwich with a marginally better goal difference so a win at The Recreation Ground would ensure that the Villagers finished sixth. Charnock dominated the first half but missed several excellent chances and paid the penalty in the second half when their defence virtually fell apart and they suffered a very disappointing 5-3 defeat. The despondency was alleviated somewhat when the final score came through revealing that 1874 Northwich had only drawn 1-1 with Windsford United and Charnock had retained the sixth spot by a goal difference of just two goals.
After the battling 2-1 win at AFC Liverpool on the previous Monday when four players had been unavailable there were selection problems for manager Andy Westwell when all four made themselves available for this match. Joe Noblet was unavailable and Alex Dodd and Jordyn Fitton were dropped to the bench and in came James Walker, Ashley Young and Matt Davison. Available again Nathan Fairhurst and Tyler Rufus were on the bench.
Charnock won the toss and West Didsbury kicked off on a fine sunny afternoon in front of a healthy crowd of just over 300. Charnock produced some excellent passing football straight from the kick off, an early ball over the top saw Aaron in the home goal have to leave his area to beat Mark Woods to the ball and then the keeper came out to collect a Ralph centre destined for the head of Grimshaw. Harvey Close delivered an excellent through ball that was just too strong for Mark Woods. Davison was almost in after nine minutes, a defender diverting his shot for a corner. The tactics of West Didsbury were based upon getting the ball forward as quickly as possible but the Charnock defence was coping easily. When Ralph again delivered from the left Grimshaw set up Young for a shot but his left footed effort went wide. Charnock took a well-deserved lead after 15 minutes, GRIMSHAW did well in competing for a high ball and a second header directed the ball over the advancing Aaron into the net. Charnock continued to dominant the game and set a tempo that West Didsbury were struggling to match. A through ball from Young saw Aaron again come out to just beat Grimshaw to the ball before on 27 minutes some fine football saw Mark Woods through into the area but rather than shooting he tried to play Grimshaw in and the pass went out for a goal kick. The home team’s first real attack came on 31 minutes when a free kick from the halfway line was headed into the area but Halton was quick enough to come out and collect the ball. Charnock should have been two goals up on 38 minutes when Grimshaw got clear but put his shot past the post. Another attack as half time approached saw Charnock switch the ball from right to left and when Ralph delivered another fine centre Grimshaw could only stab the ball wide of a post. After all their dominance so far a hint of what was to come in the second half saw Charnock concede a goal on 43 minutes, failure to clear the ball saw Landre’s effort come back off the bar and it was a simple task for Joe Shaw to hit the loose ball home. It was a really disappointing for the Villagers to go in at the break on level terms.
After their performance in the first half it could be expected that the Villagers would go on to collect the three points but as we all know football is not like that. West Didsbury’s Ben Reader replaced Whyment for the second half. A Bibby free kick to Mark Woods on the edge of the area saw him go forward and hit a shot beyond the far post and the game immediately changed with the visiting defence slow to clear their lines and a pass into the box gave Ben Steer a chance to turn the ball into the corner of the net and Charnock were behind for the first time in the match. West Didsbury grew in confidence and were now an almost totally different team to that which had struggled in the first half. Charnock looked to regain their earlier form and when Ralph hit a powerful free kick Aaron made the save. Another break from West Didsbury on 55 minutes saw Schofield block a powerful shot. Mark Woods then shot wide from the edge of the area before a minute later Ralph played a fine through ball that put MARK WOODS clear on goal and he took his time to place a shot wide of Aaron. Charnock were back in the game but could they go on to win and secure sixth place in the table? West Didsbury were now carrying a real threat. Ralph again did well down the left but Grimshaw screwed his centre well wide. Another attack by the home side saw Scott Mason turn the ball wide of the post when it looked easier to find the net. A long throw caused further problems for a wobbling visitor’s defence. On 65 minutes Nathan Fairhurst came on for Ross O’Farrell with Ashley Young dropping into the back four. Another good run by Alex Ralph to the bye-line on the left resulted in his cross causing a scramble in front of goal. Then on 74 minutes the Charnock defence again was not positive enough and substitute Sam Dickenson was given a chance to restore West Didsbury’s lead and he did not fail. The writing was now on the wall for Charnock and as usual they went chasing the game. When Woods centred from the right Harvey Close’s shot was diverted for a corner which failed to cause any problems. Throwing caution to the winds after 80 minutes manager Andy Westwell brought on Tyler Rufus for Ryan Schofield and went for three at the back and three minutes later Alex Dodd replaced Matt Davison. West Didsbury increased their lead on 84 minutes the Charnock defence was again all at sea and although Adam Halton twice got a hand to the ball it dropped for Ashley Woods right in front of goal for an easy tap-in. Ralph then produced a free kick that hit keeper Aaron rather than him saving it but the ball was cleared before Charnock could react. Charnock reduced the lead on 89 minutes, CLOSE stroking the ball into the corner of the net after another neat attack. Then Tyler Rufus got clear but he scuffed his shot wide of the far post, a chance to grab a point was gone but to be fair to the young striker he had not been on the pitch for very long. Three minutes into added time Charnock conceded again Joe Shaw rolling his second goal neatly into the corner of the net beyond Halton’s reach.
After all their dominance in the first half it was disappointing for Charnock to leave without at least a point but they must rue the missed chances in that first period. All credit to West Didsbury who produced an action packed performance in the second half and showed the Villagers how to take chances.
Considering the season overall it had been a brilliant success for Charnock. A top six finish looked far out of their reach before the season started so it is a big thank you to the players, Andy Westwell and his management team and let us not forget the support that has followed the team throughout the season.