6th March 2023 - Maine Road FC 0 v 4 Stockport Town - After a day of birding and looking at some mosses and a few fungi I had a read, continued with my new diet and set out to football to compose my last football report for a while. 400 is a nice round number to finish on and where better than to scribble my observations than at one of my fave clubs, namely Maine Road FC. I arrived with an aching arse after the day's cycling and roaming, I am an old crock of late with the body twanging and playing up in many areas. The new eating regime is set to sort things out but with so many herbs, vegetables and fruits entering the old gastric compost bin my arse is set to blow itself inside out in one mighty rasp of degrading filth. So, with reinforced underpants donned (sky blue of course), buttocks soaked in liniment and a wine-cork rammed up the chuff just in case, I arrived at Brantingham Road, paid my dues and had a brew with STP Stu. The ever amiable Jake Davies (Wythenshawe Amateurs Assistant Manager) joined us and revealed his plans to assassinate several Stockport Town players in his attempt to get his team promotion. I do think that throwing hand grenades about at football matches is a trifle risky though so suggested he opt for a more subtle option - poisoning, strangulation or of course, a rigorous bumming. Our good friends Gareth and Sandra Evans soon joined us, fine folk we see regularly and who attend the odd gig here and there. After more natter, a final slurp was had and we all went forth with perches taken and the usual wayward predictions made. All were opting for an away win, I was going with my ticker rather than my turnip and hoping for a 2 - 2 draw - why not indeed?
So the teams set to battle at 7.45pm, action was surely guaranteed and came almost immediately when The Town lost the ball and Road's No 7 (Arek Pociask) raced forth and had a chance to nail one of the quickest goals on record. The shot however lacked confidence and direction, and both teams eventually settled into their groove.
The hosts soon advanced again, a ball found the flank-flashing No 2 (Jake Pogson) who delivered a cross that Pociask disappointingly headed over. The guests now warmed to the task at hand with pressure applied and forcing The Road to defend like hepped up chipmunks with an arse full of pepper. The guest No 7 (Tobias Green) had a pop that the vocal mittman easily saved and then, from being on the back peg, the home lads cultivated a smooth breakaway that saw Pociask feed No 8 (Ben Mooney) who walloped and only just missed the target.
The game looked quite balanced in these early throes, Pogson for the blue clad boys came next, a wonderful ball was posted, Pociask had another dig but only won a corner. The angled kick came, a head rose from the depths of the pack and again missed the strike zone, that was a big chance for sure. Stockport bounced back, a cross and a header by No 6 (Michael Raynes) at the back post - outcome, ball over the bar.
A goal was surely on the cards and the strike came soon after when Stockport advanced, a long ball was sweetly chested into the path of No 11 (Kyle Foley) who darted with intent, negotiated his marker and put the ball past the keeper with seasoned aplomb - well taken.
The guests looked comfortable, Green had a pop that was well struck but not even close. No 10 (William Calligan) came soon after, a strong run was finalised by a cross, the final head was a trifle weak. Road were now feeding on scraps, No 11 (Jamie Roe) put a good ball through to Pogson who posted a delicious cross that Pociask failed to connect with.
The half wound down, there was little to add except that the hosts went down to 10 men after a sin-bin offence was committed. Matters stayed as they were, I expected more, especially from the hosts.
We didn't move for the break, I had my fruity power drink and took in the goodness whilst having a natter. We discussed the latest books we have read. I had currently enjoyed 'Eugenie Grandet' by Honore De Balzac - a tale regarding a parsimonious old blighter and his warped ways. I am now reading 'All Quiet On The Western Front' by Erich Maria Remarque - thank goodness Mr Davies had opted out of his war-based attack on tonight's visitors.
And back to the game...
...The away team were straight on it, Foley was immediately in on goal with the keeper to beat. The mesh protector was beaten in style - a two goal lead was already looking insurmountable for the home pack. No sooner had play recommenced than Foley was nearly bagging his hat-trick but this time the keeper held firm. A free-kick came the other way, Roe posted but The Town were like the clenched arse crack of Giant Haystacks - utterly impenetrable.
Maine Road had a decent spell of possession but the end product was glaringly lacking. Stockport pushed and prodded, a break by the Road saw a shout for a penalty ignored before the travelling pack raced away with Foley at the apex and duly burying his third goal of the night. Wham, bam and slam - game done and dusted methinks.
From here the game rolled on, there was little to add except Town's Foley went out wide, delivered a ball that No 9 (Daniel McLaughlin) simply knocked home and after a fairly lame Maine Road spurt the game ended with the home team guilty of not hitting the target in 90 minutes of play. Man of the Match was an easy choice, Stockport Town's No 11 (Kyle Foley) deserved his 3 goal prize and put in some serious work that was direct and honest at all times. A good player seemingly on an upward curve - it is grand to see. I headed home and was glad to receive a warm brew and toast in the car, my wife is the ultimate gem.
FINAL THOUGHT - Tonight was a tale of two teams heading in different directions it seems. Stockport Town look set to be moving up into the Premier League, Maine Road look set to finish the season on a real downer and drop a few places in the process. The guests are a clinical and efficient team without doing anything stunningly dazzling. They are going to have a big task on their hands next year - they might just be up for it! Maine Road are stuttering along, tonight displayed many failings in a team in need of some drastic changes. The ethos to play good football is there but every team needs a bit of height, some serious pace and a certain degree of cohesion. It is going to be a slow wind down to the end of the campaign but thankfully for The Road the league, this time around, is rather weak. I shall be back in the usual spot a few more times no doubt, watching what unfolds and hopefully enjoying a few winning games. At some point next season I may even get the pen out again and scribble a report. Onwards.