By Gary Britnell
Village Manchester 0 - London Falcons 1
G.F.S.N. League • Sunday, 4th November, 2007 • Salford Leisure Parks, Manchester

London Falcons continued their 100% winning start in all competitions this season with a stunning away victory to league favorites Village Manchester on Sunday, taking their run to 5 successive wins including 19 goals along the way. Following GFSN national league victories away to Nottingham Ballbois and at home to arch rivals Titans, the Falcons were surely the underdogs to a vastly experienced Manchester side, but they managed to match their opponents across the park, tackle for tackle, challenge for challenge to leave the London Falcons the team to beat this season and possibly favorites for the title in their debut season.

The game started brightly with both leading scorer James Edeki and former captain Tom Price going close in the opening 15 minutes of a highly competitive game. All Manchester had to offer was professionally dealt with by new centre-back paring Dan Walton and recent signing Richard Cowell, who both laid their bodies on the line throughout this contest.

The first clear-cut chance however did not come until the introduction of Arthur D, a former Village Manchester player. Chasing a cross field pass from Tom Price the nippy winger broke free of his full-back marker to race through one-on-one with the keeper, only for his shot to be parried spectacularly over the crossbar for the first of many Falcons corners.

The Falcons continued their dominance of the first half without creating any further clear-cut chances and must have been disappointed not to go in at the break in the lead.

Changing their formation to a familiar 4-4-2 the London Falcons faced a slightly different test in the second half after Manchester also made changes to their front line. The new blood certainly improved the Village Manchester strike force, and began to cause the Walton-Cowell duo more difficulties. On 55 minutes the pairing were left flatfooted as the Manchester striker burst through to fire a shot destined for the top corner, only for ever-present custodian Aaron Jameson to pull off a stunning save which further enhanced his reputation as the best ‘keeper in the league.

That action spurred the Falcons on and lead to a flurry of corners for the London side. Tom Price going close on several occasions only for his efforts to be deflected wide or hacked off the line. On another day the former captain would have taken the match ball away with him, as his performance deserved, but praise must go to the Manchester backline for their committed and on occasion last ditch defending.

With 10 minutes left the game was heading for a 0-0 finish that it simply didn’t deserve so Falcons manager Craig Randall decided to change things about with Tony Kerr coming on for Price. Kerr added the extra pace upfront that helped pin the Village Manchester team back in their half. However the Falcons were still missing that killer touch up front and could have been sucker punched with a few minutes left when Village Manchester counter-attacked at pace, creating a one-on-one with Falcons’ keeper Aaron Jameson. The striker lobbed the ball goalwards, only for the excellent Walton and Man of the Match Richard Cowell to both race back to their goal line and somehow hack the ball clear. Who got it clear was hard to see, but their commitment to defending was clearly evident as both ended up entangled with each other in the goal netting.

With 2 minutes left of normal time Randall introduced Falcons’ 2nd top goal scorer Gary Britnell into the action, replacing the impressive Arthur D in the process. The Falcons again laid charge to the Manchester goal and this time their hard work paid off. A James Edeki high cross was challenged for by both the Manchester Goalkeeper and Britnell. Bizarrely the keeper flapped at the ball and left an easy chance for Tony Kerr to score his third competitive goal for the Falcons in as many games since joining from the Titans. It was luck that was certainly deserved for an excellent team performance.

With the seconds ticking down Manchester laid siege to the Falcons goal. Both Britnell and Maughan making similar challenges to keep the home side at bay. Maughan’s challenge however was deemed to be mistimed as he caught the Village right winger’s ankle. At first sight the challenge didn’t look dangerous, however the player coach received a straight red card, Falcons’ first this season and now faces suspension.

The result leaves the London Falcons joint top of the National League and sent a message to the rest of the league that the Falcons mean business in their debut season.

images by James Dyke