Manchester Central made it six wins in their last seven matches with an emphatic 5-2 victory over third-placed Rochdale Sacred Heart in the Manchester Premier Division.
The early stages of the game saw both keepers making fine saves. Josh Frith was denied superbly by the Rochdale keeper who managed to tip the forward’s effort over the bar.
At the other end, Ben Jupp saved a powerful shot down to his right in the eighth minute.
The deadlock would be broken in the 12th minute after Central failed to clear a long throw in which was scrambled in to give the hosts an early lead.
Central were able to control the game and saw chances from Clinton Agho and Elvis Amoakwa almost draw the scores level.
Manchester Central’s pressure finally paid off in the 20th minute after a delightful run and pass from Dan Burns into Josh Frith, who sprinted into the box and caught the keeper off guard with a clever near post finish.
It took until the 34th minute for the next major chance – Sacred Heart’s number three played through number nine after a powerful run through the centre. However, Ben Jupp was on hand to parry the shot and keep the scores level.
Josh Frith’s first goal gave him the confidence to attempt a 20 yard half-volley which whistled just wide of the post in the 44th minute.
It was on the verge of half time that Central would take the lead. Dan Burns stepped up for a free kick from 25 yards out and was never in doubt as he curled it superbly into the top left corner.
Rochdale Sacred Heart applied considerable pressure in the opening stages of the second half as Central shuffled from a 4-3-3 to a 4-5-1 to catch the home side on the counter in the second half.
However, it took until the 64th minute for Sacred Heart to finally unlock Central’s defence and draw the scores level. Another long throw was launched in and nodded in by number eight at the near post, much to Central’s frustration.
Danny McWilliam’s side continued to hunt for the winner as Paul McGuire brought on fresh legs with club captain Cyril Davies, and young forward Mauro Mendes in the 66th and 72nd minute for Marcello Ahrin and Buba Sakiliba respectively.
Ben Jupp was yet again on-hand to deny a powerful 20 yard shot in the 74th minute in what can be described as another superb game for him.
Manchester Central finally managed to take the lead again in the 79th minute. It took some neat midfield play from Joe Darnell who played it into Dario Germano on the overlap, who floated in a perfect cross to the feet of Dan Burns as the forward took one touch and slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Rochdale Sacred Heart continued to press, hitting the post from 18 yards out, however, Central were able to contain the pressure and capitalise in the 88th minute when Dan Burns played it through to Mauro Mendes who dinked the ball over the keeper with ease to wrap the game up.
Manchester Central were not finished there though, Josh Frith played through Mauro Mendes again, who this time curled the ball around the keeper to get his second of the afternoon in the 92nd minute.
The result sees Paul McGuire’s side sixth with 34 points, just five behind Rochdale Sacred who currently sit in third. Central still have four games in hand on league leaders, Hindsford who sit on 46 points.
Many thanks to Gordon Marino for allowing us to use his photos from the match. You can see more of his work by clicking here.