East Manchester FC faced Saturday Challenge Trophy debutants Abacus Media at Hyde United’s Ewen Fields on Friday evening, with East Manchester’s final experience coming through in the second half to secure a trophy-winning 5-1 victory.
The game started with a fast pace and had both teams creating chances, with EMFC taking the pick of these in the first half. Gardner’s shot went just wide of the post in the opening minutes and McGrath’s half-volley was well-saved by Abacus’ keeper Beisty soon after.
Neither team managed to break the deadlock thanks to fantastic saves from both keepers throughout the first half, with Riccardo Longato between the sticks for EMFC and Jonny Beisty for Abacus Media.
As the teams came back out for the second half, it became evident the pace of the first half had taken its toll on the Abacus players as the East Manchester midfield took control of the game immediately.
East Manchester soon grasped the rewards for their persistent dominance as Daniel Williams broke through on goal, chipping Longato, only to be denied by the crossbar. The ball bounced nicely for Cross to return with a strong header into the open net.
Only minutes later, East Manchester doubled their lead when man of the match McLaughlin slotted the ball past Beisty in the Abacus goal after a fast counter attack.
Abacus were still countering and this paid off when substitute Watson muscled his way through the defence to finish past the onrushing keeper to make the score line 2-1.
Despite the goal, East Manchester were not deterred and responded instantly as stand-out player McLaughlin weaved through the Abacus defence as play got back underway to score his second of the game and put EMFC into a two goal lead.
As the game was about to head into injury time, McLaughlin again pounced on a mis-control in the Abacus defence to go one-on-one with Beisty, weaving his way around the keeper to secure his hat-trick.
East Manchester’s substitute Max Perry put the icing on the cake when he raced against the goalkeeper in the final moments of the game, getting his toe on the ball before Beisty, to finish the game 5-1.
A good game with a vast array of skills on show from both sides but East Manchester’s cup final experience was on show in the second half. Abacus played well but struggled to keep their fast tempo up through the second half at Ewen fields.