24 Jan 2022 in News
Town forced to settle for a point on the road after Max Leonards late first half opener is cancelled out minutes later.
James Kinsey's side miss out on all 3 points from Saturday's fiercely contested encounter with Prestwich Heys. Town will undoubtedly be ruing over their missed opportunity’s to increase the mounting pressure on their promotion rivals, with Macclesfield and Skelmersdale set to face off next weekend, as well as Danny Whitaker's Macclesfield side also dropping points away at Charnock on Saturday.
The underwhelming performance from Wythenshawe certainly contrasted that of their recent run of form, where they managed to convincingly see off then league leaders Macclesfield and FA Vase favourites Consett in consecutive away games, as well as their impressive midweek victory at home to Ashton Athletic.
It appeared in the early exchanges that neither side could enforce their stance on the game. A ferociously contested battle in midfield left chances few and far between as Steven Hewitt and Greg Wilkinson battled hard to win possession for Town. Despite the tight first half, the home side managed to conjure up the game's first real opportunity, as Jack Coop found himself in behind the Wythenshawe defence after a long ball. However, his control could not match the accuracy of the pass, allowing the defence to calmly recover before the Prestwich forward's tame effort was quickly smothered by Morgan Bacon in the Wythenshawe goal.
Max Leonard then showed his quality with a blistering run towards the Prestwich goal, with his effort on goal saved by Saunders. Matt Bryan’s headed effort from the loose ball ended up in the back of the net, but the lineman raised his flag to signal offside. Matty Bryan definitely had the Prestwich defence on their toes. The first half was perhaps epitomised best by Greg Daniel's rash tackle on Brad Byrne, which brandished out a yellow card from the referee. The impetuous challenge proceeded by pushing and shoving from both sides, resulting in Dominic Smalley and Lee Grimshaw being yellow carded also.
After a long periods of first half possession, Town took the lead just before halftime. Dominic Smalley delivered a dangerous ball into the home sides box and during several deflections on the edge of the penalty area, the ball fortuitously landed in the path of Max Leonard, who rounded the goalkeeper before slotting the ball into the far corner, beating the two defenders on the line. Leonard's goal proved that the quality of the visitor's frontline could not be underestimated.
The home side equalised within 2 minutes of the opener, as Bradley Sixsmith's quick free-kick towards the back post was met by Lee Grimshaw, before sliding the ball across goal towards Jack Coop who could not miss from a yard out. All square at the halfway point.
The home side made a fast start to the second half, with Matthew Barnes' side hitting the post after the onrushing Morgan Bacon attempted to clear the ball just outside his penalty area before his clearance fell to the feet of Scot Cullen. The Prestwich defender's effort struck the post with Bacon still out of his goal. Deane Smalley also came close in the opening minutes of the second half, with his headed effort hitting the side netting.
As the half progressed, Wythenshawe took control of the game and started to dictate play from the middle of the park, whilst also looking dangerous on the counter.
As the second half further progressed, Prestwich won a free kick on the left-hand side of the penalty area, which resulted in a delivery into the box met by Scot Cullen, who headed over from close range.
The introduction of Darius Palma midway through the second half certainly injected life into Wythenshawe's performance, with the substitute almost immediately after coming on managed to win the ball off the Prestwich defence, finding his way into the penalty area before his cross deflected into the arms of Russell Saunders. With Darius' introduction, James Kinsey's side could force Prestwich back into their half by utilising Palma's pace in behind. Town then created an identical opportunity to the one Palma manufactured just minutes before, as some play down the left-hand side resulted in Brad Byrne inside the penalty area before his ball across the 6-yard box missed the onrushing Palma. With the clock ticking down, a lofted ball into the box fell nicely to Brad Byrne, with his headed attempt hitting the side netting.
In the end, an extremely tight and uneventful affair at Prestwich with Wythenshawe forced to accept a point on the road. Town now prepare for next weeks home fixture as we welcome Runcorn Town to Ericstan Park.