Prestwich having conceded home advantage due to waterlogged pitches at both Adie Moran Park and Hopwood Hall, to play on Failsworth’s 4G pitch, suffered a ninth straight defeat against this opposition after conceding a 90th minute goal.
In many ways this was a game of two halves in the true sense of the phrase but had Prestwich been able to take the chances they created they would have emerged victorious. Despite Failsworth perhaps having the greater possession especially in the second half most of the clear cut chances in the game fell to Prestwich.
Boosted by the signing of Tibor Gabovda who played up front with Sean Haslam, Prestwich had the better of the first half in windy conditions which did slightly favour them.
During a keenly contested half Failsworth did have two very good chances to take the lead, firstly when a break down the left saw a shot blocked by Richard Steadman and the ball rolled towards goal only to be cleared to safety before a Failsworth forward could get a touch.
The second was a great effort when a ball was pushed out to the right of the box and was hit on the half volley only to bend towards the top corner but just clear the angle of the goal. Despite some serious pressure on the Prestwich defence of Martin Hill, Stefan Rapacz, Steadman and Steven Lorenzini there were no clear chances and Michael Hudson in goal did not have a serious shot to save.
At the other end Prestwich were creating consternation in the Failsworth defence as they opened up several good chances.
Michael Neary and Callum Pragnell were working hard to exploit the wings and Tito Miguel and Matthew Brennan were probing through the middle. The best of the chances fell to Sean Haslam when he received the ball in the box made himself room and fired in a shot that the keeper saved at full stretch.
Martin Hill later fired in a half volley from the edge of the box that just cleared the bar and another shot from Miguel lacked power to find the bottom corner and was saved low down by the keeper.
Prestwich then took a deserved lead when Brennan won a challenge just inside the Failsworth half, followed up the loose ball, won another challenge on the edge of the box and beat the advancing keeper to it, chipping the ball over him into the net for an excellent individual goal in the 36th minute.
Two minutes later it should have been 2–0 when Miguel picked up a clearance in midfield, drove forward and sent Haslam in behind, his early shot looked destined for the bottom corner but came back off the post and the defence were able to clear.
With Gabovda providing support up front it looked like Prestwich could extend their lead but it was not to be and the half ended with them only 1–0 to the good.
The wind seemed to strengthen in the second half which made it more difficult to get the ball forward and Prestwich were put under severe pressure in the opening 20 minutes with Failsworth winning a number of corners and having half chances but nothing was on target and Hudson again had nothing to save, only dealing with crosses and blocked efforts.
Prestwich were still a threat on the break and Haslam and Gabovda were working hard to create chances.
Prestwich were stunned on 66 minutes though when Hill was harshly adjudged to have fouled on the edge of the box when he seemed to have won the ball cleanly. As happened three weeks ago, a well struck free kick went over the wall and into the net with Hudson left flat footed.
From this point on both teams looked for a winner and chances did occur at both ends but Prestwich perhaps had the best of them. Gabovda forced two corners in quick succession, both taken by Haslam they were drilled into the box and met a Prestwich head.
First Steadman put a low bullet header wide of the post then Rapacz’s glancing header curved agonisingly just the wrong side of the same post. These and the first half missed chances were ultimately to cost Prestwich.
On 70 minutes a tiring Gabovda was replaced by James Barlow and Hill pushed forward, 10 minutes later Rapacz was replaced by Dillan White returning after injury, both changes requiring a rearrangement in defence.
On 85 minutes Brennan was replaced by Rafael Straszewski after being spoken to by the referee and perhaps under threat of action. The pattern of the game did not change with both teams going for the win.
What was a mystery is that Failsworth finished with 11 men after Haslam was cynically felled after breaking clear near the half way line, a booking for certain, only a free kick given and then Miguel was taken out waist high on the edge of the box by a player already booked. This free kick was driven against the wall and came to nothing.
Then on 90 minutes Failsworth having adopted more of a long ball game took the lead. Another long ball found a forward free on the right and he was able to get the better of Steadman and fire in from what looked like a tight angle to give them the three points.
Prestwich were unable to reply in the injury time that followed but must look on this game with a mixture of disappointment and optimism having pushed the second placed team in the division all the way and knowing that a more clinical edge would have given them a victory.
Next up is another hard game against last season’s champions when they host Whitworth Valley at Hopwood Hall on 07/03/20 with a 2.00pm KO.