Although there have been signs of an improving situation in the last two weeks or so, Prestwich were still without ten players who could have been pushing for a place in the squad. But for the first time in weeks an injury free fourteen were on the team sheet and so optimism was high going into this fixture.
Even so there were four absentees from last week’s starting team and in the first 15 minutes it showed as Old Blacks took control of the game and created several good chances that were off target or saved by Michael Hudson in goal.
Gradually Prestwich settled into the game and with Dale Beaumont playing a midfield anchor role they started to press forward themselves. After a couple of wasted corners, Prestwich took the lead when a much-improved corner on 20 minutes found the head of the ever-dangerous Barrie Campbell who placed a terrific header into the top corner over defender and keeper.
Old Blacks responded and continued to press the Prestwich defence, who were never let off the hook all afternoon. Several good chances were not taken and late in the half a great effort from the edge of the box bounced off the top of the bar. Prestwich had their own chances which were also not taken, the best of which was a good effort on the turn from Stephen Charles that was heading for the top corner but a well positioned keeper clutched it out of the air.
The half ended with Prestwich retaining their one goal lead but knowing that a determined Old Blacks side were going to step up their efforts in the second half.
A blow for Prestwich was the withdrawal of Beaumont at half time suffering from shin splints which meant a change in shape. Rafael Straszewski replaced him on the left wing, but this essentially left only Sam Holden and Callum Pragnell in true midfield roles. This did not affect things greatly for the first 20 minutes or so with the pair working manfully to control the game, eventually though they were outnumbered as Old Blacks adjusted their shape and subsequently created an overload in midfield, and with it more control of the game.
Then on 65 minutes disaster struck, a long kick from the keeper looked to have been flicked on to an offside player who went on to score, the flag was raised and after consulting the linesman the ref gave the goal, presumably because he judged that the ball had not been touched. From then on, the Prestwich shape started to slip and boosted by the equalizer Old Blacks pressed forward, their two front men giving the Prestwich defence no end of trouble.
It was almost inevitable that further goals would follow as Prestwich lost their grip on the game. A quickfire brace in the 68th and 71st minutes effectively put the game out of reach for Prestwich.
However, in an attempt to get back into the game Campbell was pushed forward and Eren Salih replaced David Wheaton. Prestwich did get some better possession and Salih caused some problems down the right, but none of his crosses found a Prestwich player.
The hard working Harvey Rhodes had a fierce shot at the near post palmed away by the keeper and when he was fouled on the edge of the box a free kick was given when Straszewski was in on goal but denied the chance to score. From the free kick Nathan Bailey had an excellent effort canon off the bar with the keeper beaten.
Shortly before this a foul on Salih on the right wing was ignored and the resulting break led to a 78th minute forth goal for Old Blacks. Insult was added to injury when a fifth was added in injury time, headed in from a corner by their impressive No 9.
This game encapsulated the phrase fine margins, as despite the final score-line if certain events had gone Prestwich’s way who knows what the result might have been.
Next up for Prestwich on 30/10/21 is a home game against Old Mancunians FC at Hopwood Hall M24 6XH with a 2.00pm KO.
OLD BLACKBURNIANS v PRESTWICH GALLERY
By Leo Michaelovitz