Mon 9th (Cup) Thornleigh 2-1 Prestwich FC
Prestwich crashed out of the cup at the first hurdle to Division 1 leaders Thornleigh, the barrage of fixtures ultimately taking its toll on what had become a weary skeletal squad.
Having started well and looking the much more accomplished side with Darren Buckley, Tito Miguel and Sean Haslam catching the eye in particular Prestwich went behind in the 21st minute with a daisy cutter from 40 yards that picked up pace of the wet surface to go between several defenders and under keeper Mike Hudson.
Having looked by far the more likely until then the goal took the wind out of the visitors sails and they never quite managed to reach the heights of before, and rest of the half was a fairly even affair with real chances few and far between.
The lads started the second period in determined style and scored a neat equaliser through Daniel Ingham with lovely strike from the edge of the box. Buoyed by the goal Prestwich set about in search of a winner but missing the pace of absentees Martin Hill, Mike Neary and Andrew Dean it was proving difficult to get in behind a dogged Thornleigh defence.
The hosts having entered the game on the back of an impressive 12 match winning run grew in confidence as the Prestwich boys started to tire and regained the lead in the 70th minute.
The resilience and determination in the Prestwich ranks saw them dig deep into their reserves to launch an impressive fight back to try and take the game to penalties at least.
Unfortunately one of Thornleigh’s best players was their keeper who handled everything that came his way with great authority, making a superb save to tip a cracking downward header by Ingham round the post right at the death to take the hosts into the next round.
Sat 14th Bury GSOB 2-2 Prestwich
A thoroughly entertaining game saw Prestwich drop two points against a BGSOB side that are desperately fighting to beat the drop, and it showed with a dogged performance by the hosts.
Bury started the game well playing on the front foot pressuring Prestwich high up the pitch, but the Prestwich defenders handled the situation well in the main calmly passing the ball out of trouble and patiently working their way up the pitch.
Having had a five day break between games Prestwich had Mike Neary, Richard Steadman and Andrew Dean returning from injury, as the half wore on the latter started to terrorise the Bury defence constantly bombing forward from the left back position, whilst Martin Hill and Tito Miguel made inroads on the right and centrally.
Prestwich were playing some delightful football with push and goes between driving midfielders and Sean Haslam the main target man. As the pressure intensified time and time again the ball fizzed across the Bury box and it came as no surprise when Prestwich took the lead with a cracking 25 strike from Stefan Rapacz.
With Bury’s attack largely being stifled by the Prestwich defence Prestwich appeared to be in control and heading for a routine victory.
But that all changed in the 42nd minute when a sloppy pass from the otherwise excellent Richard Steadman went straight to a Bury player on the right, his square ball was met by a Bury striker for a neatly taken finish.
The goal boosted Bury, unnerved Prestwich and Bury continued to pose the greater threat for the remaining minutes but it remained 1-1 at the interval.
Prestwich re-established control of the game in the second period and looked much the more likely to take the lead. But as was the case throughout the first half having created the space to shoot all too often flowing moves would end with players firing wildly wide or over the bar
On the hour yet another loss of concentration saw a Bury striker pounce on a mistake and give Prestwich a demonstration of clinical finishing. Bury sensed it was going to be their day and minutes later the same striker got in behind Chris Adams forcing the foul which was dubiously adjudged to be in the area .
Fortunately for Prestwich the ensuing penalty was blasted over the bar. Prestwich’s response was immediate and direct. The pack was reshuffled to send Paul Taylor up front alongside Haslam sacrificing a midfielder and Hill, Dean and Miguel started to run at the Bury defence at every opportunity.
From one of the many scrambles in the Bury box that followed the ball broke free to Darren Buckley who poked home from 8 yards for a 77th minute equaliser. Thereafter Prestwich launched wave after wave of attacks but just couldn’t find a winner, the closest effort coming from a magnificent run by Neary down the right, leaving several players in his wake he cut inside and hit a peach of a shot from 18 yards with his weaker left foot that was bound for the top corner, only to see the keeper make a brilliant save to tip over.
With the seconds ticking by Bury pushed players up in their own last desperate attempts to get the points, Prestwich won the ball back and fed Dean lurking wide left some 20 yards inside the Bury half, with Prestwich having Dean, Haslam and Hill racing against two back peddling Bury defenders the referee bizarrely chose that moment to blow the full time whistle and it ended two a piece.