The first game in the LAL’s new Divisional Cup format turned out to be extremely unfortunate for the Prestwich lads who after an energetic and hard working performance came away with nothing.
As seems to be generally the case at Whitworth all that could go wrong did. Fielding a pretty strong side Prestwich started the game well and traded punches with Whitworth. However disaster struck on 12 minutes when having skipped past his fullback Mike Neary was tackled from behind, possibly catching his studs in the turf but nonetheless ended up leaving the game with what he suspected was a broken leg or ankle.
Much of the first half was end to end with both teams creating half chances but neither bringing a serious save from the keepers but Prestwich were well in the game and were perhaps the better side in the final 20 minutes of the half, but it was still scoreless at the break.
The second half began with Prestwich mostly on the front foot and pressing the Whitworth defence which coped fairly well with what was asked of them. Likewise the Prestwich rearguard held firm and neither goalkeeper was called into serious action.
This all changed on 72 minutes when a through ball between the Prestwich lines brought Mike Hudson from his box and attempt a clearance before the Whitworth centre forward got to the ball. Unfortunately he missed his kick and the ball was stopped by his arm denying a goal scoring opportunity, which resulted in his dismissal though it may have been a touch unlucky. From the free kick Whitworth won a corner and from this stand in keeper Richard Steadman made a good punched clearance under pressure to the edge of the box. The next piece of bad luck was that it fell kindly for a Whitworth player to head it goalward and it was directed into Steadman’s top left corner leaving him helpless.
This was the conclusion of the scoring but not before the 10 men of Prestwich made a sterling effort to salvage a point from the game. Several efforts from 18 yards flew wide or high and there were four or five scrambles in the Whitworth box which just did not fall for a Prestwich player to get a shot through on target.
The nearest they came was a header from Steve Lorenzini from a set piece that cannoned off the post with the goalie beaten but no one could get to the rebound and it was cleared.
A gallant effort in the end produced no reward but every player can take pride from the performance and wonder what might have been had two key events not gone against them.
We all wish Mike Neary a speedy recovery but at the time of writing the details of his injury are unknown.