Manchester Central suffered a first loss in four months as a second half collapse saw Central lose 5-2 vs Pennington FC at Jubilee Park.
Central took the lead within the first two minutes as Lamin Baldeh neatly found the back of the net. Mauro Mendes then put Central two up from close range after the keeper had spilled Baldeh’s free kick.
Both teams went into the break a man down as Zak Bell tackled Pennington’s Boic Bafana, who reacted angrily and started a small scuffle.
After the break, a hat-trick from Heath Ainscow and a goal a piece for Chris Lowe and Niall Battersby gave Pennington the 3 points.
Central started the first half strong and were rewarded with their attacking intent after just 2 minutes. Lamin Baldeh strode past Pennington’s midfield, drawing a tackle from an opposition defender. The ball fell kindly to Baldeh and he fired past Lee Taylor from the edge of the area.
Pennington did not create a clear-cut chance during the whole of the first half and Central had the chance to double their lead. Central’s attackers played some intricate passing and Oumar Kande was found just inside the penalty area, he fired a low shot, which was tipped wide by the keeper.
Just 90 seconds after that save, Central did extend their lead. Lamin Baldeh struck a free kick 25 yards from goal and forced Taylor to parry the shot, he parried it into the onrushing Mauro Mendes who was able to coolly slot home.
On the half hour mark, Zak Bell won the ball fairly from Bafana yet the Pennington attacker reacted angrily to the tackle by grabbing Zak Bell around his neck. A small scuffle then followed and eventually, referee John Walton sent both Bell and Bafana off.
Pennington started the second half exactly how Central started the first. Chris Lowe scored an excellent free kick to get Pennington back into the game within the first two minutes again.
Central tried to respond and goal scorer Mauro Mendes was played through behind the Pennington defence. Mendes was extremely harshly adjudged to be offside.
After 60 minutes Ainscough scored his first goal of the day. He confidently controlled a cross and finished past the outstretched Jordan Hadlow from outside the box.
Central had a golden chance to go back ahead. Substitute Josh Frith crossed from the left but it was just too high or Cory Knight who couldn’t get a proper connection and headed over
Hadlow was called into action after 70 minutes as Pennington pressured the Central defence. A cheap free kick was given away and the Central keeper made a stunning save to deny Chris Lowe.
Baldeh then tried his luck with a free kick similarly placed but the keeper saved his powerful effort.
Liam Ellis took aim from range but his effort was easily saved.
On 80 minutes, Ainscough put Pennington ahead for the first time. A ball came in from the left and the forward scored with a well-placed half volley.
Manager Paul McGuire made a bold move as Central switched to 3 at the back. Kaine Martin entered the field in place of Daniel Parker in an attempt to find an equaliser.
The equaliser nearly came on 82 minutes. Josh Frith smacked the post with a curling shot, the ball then trickled along the goal line and the keeper eventually quashed any chances of a Central attacker knocking the ball in.
As Central chased a goal, they were left open at the back and Ainscough completed his hat-trick after turning past a Central defender and firing across goal past Hadlow.
Pennington began to slow things down, frustrating a Central side still looking for a third goal. Central attacked but were caught in possession and Niall Battersby drove forward slotting the ball into the goal to complete a high scoring game.
The end result of 5-2, was Central’s first defeat since the 4th November 2017 against Leigh Athletic. The defeat also ended a 12 game unbeaten run as Central remain 2nd in Division One.
The final 5 games begin with a trip to play Chadderton Reserves on the 7th April (KO 14:00).