Manchester Central beat Tintwistle Athletic on penalties to lift the 2017/18 Murray Trophy at a packed Ewen Fields.
180 spectators were eagerly watching but had to wait until after 90 minutes to see who would become champions. Tintwistle had numerous chances during the first half with Ant Rodriguez, George Clarey and Tom Burns going close. Central struggled to cope with Tintwistle’s pacy front three however slowly worked their way into the game. Both Liam Ellis and Cory Knight saw sights of goal yet couldn’t convert.
After the break, Central then rattled the post through Lamin Baldeh whilst Josh Frith had a curling free-kick saved by the keeper. Neither side could find the breakthrough so the match was decided by penalties with Central winning 2-1.
Central started the game with a high intensity and saw good link up play between Frith and Knight yet it was Tintwistle that came closest to scoring. Ant Rodriguez had two glorious opportunities from Tintwistle Corners yet headed both over the bar.
George Clarey also got in behind the Central defence twice but scuffed his first shot which allowed Central captain Cyril Davies to clear. For his second attempt, he attempted to chip keeper Jordan Hadlow but Hadlow got a superb touch and Daniel Parker was able to put the ball behind for a corner.
Just before the break and it was Central’s turn to have a crack at goal. Cory Knight found himself striding through on goal with a Tintwistle defender for company. Knight used his strength to out muscle the defender yet referee Jack Welch penalised the Central number 9 for a foul.
Right back Liam Ellis was allowed to play very high up the pitch and had several half chances. Frith crossed the ball in from the left but Ellis couldn’t connect with the ball. Ellis also fired a powerful shot from a tight angle but saw the ball fly wide.
The last action of the half saw Tintwistle’s Tom Burns chasing a long ball over the Central defence. Tom Greenfield showed his strength to calmly shepherd the ball back to Hadlow and quash the chance.
The second half commenced with Tom Burns attempting an ambitious volley from outside the box which traveled far over the cross bar.
Tintwistle continued started the second half as they started the first. Joe Elliott was nearly through on goal down the left hand side but Cyril Davies was able to halt his progress, picking up a yellow card in the process.
Moments later and Lamin Baldeh had acres of space on the edge of the area and his low powerful shot rattled the post with Central’s attackers unable to convert the rebound.
Just before the hour mark and Cory Knight was replaced by Omar Kande. Shortly after and Lamin Baldeh was also replaced by Mauro Mendes.
The game turned quite scrappy with no major action until the last 5 minutes. Tom Burns saw a shot deflect wide whilst Mendes was fouled close to the edge of the box by Connor Sampson who received a booking. Frith took the free kick but keeper Stephen McWilliam made a good save.
That brought the game to a close and penalties were to follow. Central had been victorious in their previous penalty shoot out vs Chadderton Reserves so needed to rely on that experience to beat Tintwistle.
Luke Monaghan took Central’s first penalty but his was saved by McWilliam. Ant Rodriguez took Tintwistle’s first but his was saved by Jordan Hadlow.
Central then missed the next two with Cyril Davies and keeper Jordan Hadlow both unable to convert. Sub Sam Swann scored for Tintwistle however Hadlow saved again, this time stopping Tom Burns.
Tintwistle currently led 1-0 after 3 penalties each. This was all to change as Zack Bell coolly converted to make it 1-1. Connor Sampson then hit the post for Tintwistle as Josh Frith found the top corner to put Central ahead for the first time.
With Central leading 2-1, Tintwistle captain Mike Kennedy had to score to keep Tintwistle in the game. Kennedy stepped up but Hadlow showed his penalty saving prowess and saved again meaning Central had won the shootout 2-1.
📹 | SAVE👐
— Manchester League (@THEMCRFL) May 4, 2018
Central players and staff celebrated wildly on the pitch and a special day was completed when Central lifted the trophy in front of the player’s friends and families.
Manchester Central have won the Murray Trophy!!! 🏆🙌🏻🏆🙌🏻🏆
— Manchester Central FC (@mcrcentralfc) May 4, 2018