The wait was finally over for our PAN Disability teams this week, as the Greater Manchester Ability Counts Football League was back following the winter break.
There was a lot on the line for our teams as the results would count not only for the league, but would also help to determine whether either team would qualify for the next round of the FA People's Cup.
First up is Division 1 and the Bury Shakers. Milnrow Jaguars, Burnley DFC, Manchester United Black and Manchester City Pan B were the teams that stood in their way. The first game was against Milnrow Jaguars, a new team entered into the league this season. In this game, both teams were very evenly matched and almost canceled each other out throughout the game. A save from what was the last kick of the game is all that denied the Shakers three points.
Onto the second game, and the Shakers came up against Burnley DFC, a team that had caused them problems earlier in the season, beating the Shakers convincingly. That wasn't the case this time, however, as the Shakers were well on top in the opening exchanges and were able to take the lead through Danny Lees. He cut in from the left and fired home from close range, but we were pegged back by a Burnley goal 2 minutes later. It looked like the game was going to end 1-1 until two minutes before the end when some miscommunication in the Shakers' defence lead to Burnley's second.
The Shakers however, were able to muster 2 more attacks in the last minute of the game. Eventually a Burnley clearance dropped to the feet of Ryan Haworth, who was able slot home for a dramatic equaliser. The game ended 2-2, with the Shakers being the better team throughout.
Game three for the Shakers saw them go up against old foes Manchester United Black. Both teams have had some epic games against each other in the past, with goals almost guaranteed each time they play. There was only one goal in it this time though, as a United corner was nodded home midway through the game which proved to be the decisive goal. As much as the Shakers tried, they were unfortunately unable to break United down but it wasn't through lack of effort, and the Shakers were unlucky to come away with nothing.
The fourth and final game of the night for the Shakers was against Manchester City Pan 'B'. City were a very good footballing side and were able to get the better of the Shakers from the get-go, gaining an early 2-goal lead. The Shakers never gave up trying to turn the game in their favour, but as fatigue set in they were caught on the break, as City were able to cap off their evening with a 3-0 victory over the Shakers.
Now on to the Championship, where Bury Shadows fared a little better. The Shadows were up against Manchester City Amputees, Milnrow Allstars and Curzon Ashton.
Up first for the Shadows were Manchester City Amps. Last time out, the Shadows faced the Amps for the first time and at the time seemed reluctant to tackle and play their normal game, however this time round they got back to their usual style of play, and were the better team. Quick passing and moving in attack proved to be the difference for the Shadows, as a quick ball forward from defender Matt Nelson was calmly controlled and placed in the bottom corner of the Amps' goal by Phil Johnson as the Shadows took the lead. The Amps fought back, making the last couple of minutes difficult for the Shadows, but calmness in defence and use of the wide men ensured that the Shadows came away with a vital 1-0 win and three points.
The second game didn't quite go to plan for the Shadows as they went up against Milnrow Allstars. As with Division One's Jaguars, the Allstars are a new team this season who are solid in defense, physical and quick in attack.
The Shadows never really got going, conceding 3 very early goals. A knock to captain Tom Johnson meant a re-shuffle, with players being forced to play out of position. This meant more and more gaps were forming, leading to Allstars exploiting these to score another 2 before the game ended in a 5-0 defeat for the Shadows.
In what was the final game of the evening, Bury Shadows faced another newcomer to the league, Curzon Ashton. The Shadows had regrouped after the defeat to Milnrow and looked in confident form from the kick off, being able to play the ball forward and making simple, yet effective passes to unlock Curzon's defense.
After going close with a number of efforts, the Shadows finally got their first goal of the game after Jacob Critchley and John Duffy played a simple one-two down the left side of the pitch, with Duffy firing into the top corner from close range. Only a minute later, the same two were able to link up again before Duffy tapped in unopposed.
It looked like the scoreline was destined to finish 2-0, as every effort was either over the bar or wide for both teams. However Jacob Critchley was again involved as Bury grabbed a third. Critchley latched on to a loose ball at halfway and was able to take it past three defenders before rounding the 'keeper and slotting home to confirm the 3 points. Shadows 3-0 Curzon Ashton.
Now we wait to find out if we have qualified for the next round of the People's Cup, the current league standings are below:
Greater Manchester Ability Counts Football League