A SNOWY Saturday afternoon saw Manchester Central defeat bottom club Westbury 4-1 at The Manchester College in the Manchester League Division One.
Westbury held their own in the first half but Central took the lead through Liam Ellis.
The home side got their deserved goal before the interval as Francis Lee headed home from a corner.
A goal line scramble saw Central take the lead with 52 minutes played as Daniel Parker blasted home.
Cory Knight added a third for the away side as he rounded the ’keeper, and Frank Detou completed the scoring with a penalty.
Central were off to a flying start after eight minutes as Cyril Davies’ header found Knight, who played a first-time flick to Ellis who made space with some clever movement and finished well into the bottom right corner to score his third goal of the season.
Paul McGuire’s side continued to press and could have added to their lead when Knight was through on goal, but his cheeky attempt to lob Westbury’s Daniel Farley didn’t come off.
And Westbury punished the away side when defender Lee, who was seemingly unmarked, scored a header from a corner after 23 minutes.
The home side were clearly boosted by Lee’s goal as they pushed on to attack Central, forcing ’keeper Jordan Hadlow into making some decent saves.
Westbury were the happier side going into half-time as they had given a great account for themselves in the first period; playing the ball out from the back and creating some good opportunities.
CLOSE: Cory Knight’s cheeky effort (photo by David Clarke)
Central were clearly given some tough words at half-time and reacted brilliantly in the second half as left-back Daniel Parker smashed home after 52 minutes to make it 2-1.
Parker’s goal marked a turning point in the game as Central grew into proceedings and Westbury struggled to deal with the pressure from McGuire’s men.
Luke Monaghan and Ellis went close for Central with two long range efforts and a Davies header moments later looped just over the crossbar.
Elvis Amoakwa almost added a third, forcing a decent save from Farley, and the rebound fell to Ellis whose lobbed effort missed the target.
Kaine Martin and Davies had their chances, and Knight saw an ambitious effort just skim the crossbar.
It was becoming concerning for the away side as they continued to squander good chances to put the game to bed, but Knight did the honours with 63 minutes played as a brilliant individual goal saw him turn defender Lee and then round the ’keeper to finish into an empty net for his seventh goal of the campaign.
Substitute Detou scored his first goal in a Central shirt from the penalty spot after Ben Smith was deemed to have fouled Detou by referee Ade Soneye as the pair challenged for the ball, and the forward stepped up and blasted the penalty past Farley.
“4-1 win but at half-time it was 1-1 and Westbury were well in the game,” Central manager McGuire said. “They probably shaded the first half, we were a bit sloppy.
“I don’t think we had any real stand out performer but I’m going to give it to Liam Ellis,” said McGuire on his pick for man of the match. “He worked really hard (and) he had a hand in a couple of the goals.”
“We started to take control (in the) second half, after about 60 minutes in it was all Manchester Central and we really deserved the 4-1 victory.” – Paul McGuire.
Saturday’s win sees Central climb up the table to fourth spot with 16 points, but this can be taken with a pinch of salt as rivals Elton Vale, on 15 points, and Leigh Athletic, on 16 points, both have two games in hand.
But Central can still be hopeful for promotion as they sit just six points below second place Chapel Town, who have played three games more than McGuire’s side.
For Westbury, they still sit bottom of Division One on just three points, but can definitely take some positives out of their first half performance.
Next up for Central is a home match against 8th placed Hollinwood, and Westbury will be looking to pick up points at home to 7th place Boothstown.
Report writen and edited by David Clarke.