FC Isle of Man 3 v 0 Skelmersdale United

 

By Gordon Johnson

Skelmersdale United lost on the road, or in the air should that be, after a long away day in the Isle of Man.

Not helped by a 5am start for the squad to get to Manchester Airport in time for the early morning flight to Ronaldsway airport, the game kicked off at 6pm in the evening.

The first half saw both teams playing out a tense midfield battle for large parts as they looked to figure each other out and find a way through both well disciplined defences, with United for the second game running being marshalled at the back by player manager Pascal Chimbonda.

The hosts best chance of the half came in the 37th minute, with Seán Doyle’s low cross setting up a powerful close-range effort for Higgins, only for him to be thwarted by a goal-line clearance from Mo Jabir. Skem were thwarted by some ‘Dubious’ offside decisions on a couple of occasion’s as Yasir Salim utilised his pace to spring the home side’s offside trap. Right on half time though some great interlink play between Salim and ‘Billy’ Abdullahi Ahmed saw ‘Billy’s effort whistle just wide of the hosts goal with home Keeper Ben Wilkinson well beaten.

The second half was a polar opposite, with a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ second half performance from the Skelmersdale team. The breakthrough for the hosts came just two minutes in as Michael Williams was bundled to the ground by Dana Amaral in the Skem box earning the Ravens a penalty which Jack McVey duly dispatched past Skem Keeper Joe Langford to give FC IOM the lead.

On 58 minutes Skem made their only change of the game when 16 year old Thomas Smith came on for his United debut in place of Yasir Salim. Certainly a highlight of the game for the travelling Skem supporters was Smith’s performance in the middle of the park, displaying maturity well beyond his years.

Skem should have had a golden opportunity to equalise shortly later when Yasir Salim was brought down just inside the host’s penalty area, only to see their appeals for a penalty kick waved away by the referee.

In the 63rd minute, Frank Jones picked up the ball on the right of the Skem penalty area and hung up a delightful ball to the far post where Charlie Higgins met it with a powerful header to double the hosts lead.

Just four minutes later Higgins turned from goalscorer to provider driving a low ball across the Skelmersdale area from the left for Doyle to meet it unmarked at the back post and for a tap in putting the hosts three up.

In the 83rd minute any faint hopes of getting back into the game for Skem were further compounded when player manager Pascal Chimbonda, was sin-binned for dissent, after he eventually lost his cool at some of the offside decisions in the game, leaving his team down to 10. One might say it was deserved, but when compared to a tirade delivered by the Islanders captain, Frank Jones, towards referee Alan Butler following a first half drop ball re-start that received no sanction at all then the question has to be asked, where’s the consistency?

The hosts played out the remaining ten minutes to secure the points, with the Skem players taking time at the full time whistle to go over and acknowledge the fantastic support from the fans who had made the trip  over to Douglas and despite being well out numbered could be heard cheering the lads on above the home supporters.

Referee: Alan Butler

FC Isle of Man: Wilkinson, Kelly, Crook, McVey, Sherry, Watson, Williams, Jones (c), Doyle, Pinnington, Higgins. Subs: Whitley, Davies, Gerrad, Maitland, Creer.

Skelmersdale United: Langford, Griman, Ibrahim, Jabir, Chimbonda, Amarzou (c), Knowles, Ahmed, Salim, Amaral. Subs: Smith, Bridge, Bouraima, Fall, Bollongino.

Attendance: 876

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