A last minute goal resulted in Blackpool leaving Greater Manchester empty handed in a rare game not called off due to the weather.
Didsbury confirmed early in the morning that with a bit of work, the pitch should be playable in time for the push back. This bit of work involved both sides warming up on a reduced portion of the pitch to help clear the frost, but once done, the pitch and the teams were raring to go.
The opening half saw the ball in the back of the net three times, but none of them counted. Firstly Dave Morgan placed his shot above the back board at a penalty corner, after some neat work with Dan Woodman. The second time Didsbury were awarded a goal, but after a consolation, the umpires agreed that the ball failed to touch an attacking player’s stick inside the area and the decision was reversed. Didsbury finally thought they had broken the deadlock as the celebrated a goal from a quickly taken free-hit, but the umpires were quick to rule it out for an earlier infringement.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with both sides mixing up some excellent hockey and some comical slips on the semi-frozen surface. To the delight of a growing home crowd, with all the lower Didsbury teams facing each other later in the day, the home side took the lead after a scramble in the Blackpool area and multiple saves by Nick Rainbow couldn’t keep the ball out of the net. Blackpool rallied to play their best hockey of the game. Jay Currey threated down the right flank, with Simon Thomas matching him on the left, giving the tiring Didsbury defence a work out. The equaliser came from a move down the left that saw Jordan Payne lift the ball over the oncoming keeper into the goal with ten minutes left to play.
As the minutes ticked down, both sides pressed ahead for the winner. Rob Abbott’s last ditch tackle saved the visitors whilst the Didsbury goalkeeper made a great save from a deflection at a penalty corner to keep his side in it. As is so often the case, it was unfortunate that a game played in such good spirits was decided by a significant error. With less than a minute remaining on the clock, Blackpool looked in little danger as they looked to break for one last attack. However a careless ball out from the back was swept up by the oncoming Didsbury attacker, and there only ever looked like one result from that moment. Rainbow was left helpless as two players swarmed his area, with no defence in sight. There was barely time to re-start the match when full time whistle blew, leaving a dejected Blackpool to lick their wounds before next week’s game.