As we entered a series of "Must Win" games to ensure First Division football we took on a strong and experienced Old Boys team.
Laxey had the best of the opening minutes when Matty Williamson and Michael Fernandes both had chances, but as so often this season we went behind after 12 minutes when Old Boys scored with a header.
George Burrows had a free kick saved, and just four minutes after the Old Boys opener, Laxey scored the equaliser. Stan Manning put in a pin point cross which was strongly headed in from close range by Michael, and we were back to all square.
Stan hit a shot over, and at this stage the game was being played by both sides at a fast pace, and was pretty even. Harry Walters put in a great defensive tackle to thwart an Old Boys attack, and then John Palmer, in goals again, made an absolutely tremendous save to prevent a certain goal, and put the ball out for a corner. Harry had another moment when he cleared for the line to prevent another goal. Old Boys were going through a purple patch, and could easily have gone further ahead in this period, but for strong defending and hard work.
Laxey came back into the game again after those Old Boys attack and Michael hit a free kick over the bar. A good run by Matty led to a corner and from that Laxey came close.
At the other end, John Palmer made another great save to prevent another certain goal. Old Boys were still attacking regularly and Dave Reynolds made a great interception.to break down an attack, putting his body on the line and coming away cleanly. The first half ended even, with both teams having chances, but crucial saves from John and interceptions from Dave and Harry made a real difference.
The second half was a different story. Straight from kick off, Joe Walters was nearly through after a good team move, and then just four minutes into the half Laxey went ahead. George knocked a long ball forward into the stride of Joe and he broke clear and finished cleanly to make it 2 - 1 to Laxey.
On 11 minutes into the half Laxey scored again. A ball from Harry saw Joe near the edge of the area, and under pressure, he controlled, pivoted and scored an absolute beauty with his left foot, an unstoppable shot. 3 - 1 to Laxey and the rapid interplay between particularly Matty, Stan, Harry and Joe was pulling the Old Boys defence apart.
After good work between Tom Kenny and Stan, and a final good ball from Stan, Michael shot wide. Michael then had a good solo run through a crowd of bodies and was blocked just as he was about to shoot. John Palmer was called on again for another diving save to keep the two goal advantage, and as Old Boys had a mini revival, Andy Burkitt put in a great tackle, and Dave Reynolds followed up with another good tackle to stop the attackers. A shot from Old Boys looked destined to blast in under the bar, but John, using his great height, got a fingertip to it to tip over the bar for a corner.
Harry then made a good break and laid off a good ball to Stan whose shot was saved.
Joe was then flattened by an Old Boys player as he ran through brick walls to get into the box, and the player was sent off. So, Laxey were now playing ten men - things were looking good.
After more good work from Harry, Tom Kenny shot over the bar, and then Michael had a shot wide.
And then the fourth goal, bringing much relief to players and spectators. Stan took a free kick wide on the right and Harry took a subtle touch to turn it directly in to make it 4 - 1 to Laxey with just five minutes to go. The game finished with a good run from Stan leading to George having a shot saved.
A great win, and the defence seemed much more resolute in front of outstanding keeping by John Palmer. David Screech Corlett, Andy and Dave Reynolds played well together, and the young guns up front, playing quick one twos and two touch football were quick and clever enough to pull the experienced Old Boys defence apart. Having the experience of Screech, Dave, Michael and John to back up the talents of the younger players made for a good team. Sympathies with the equally talented subs, Joe Murley, Tom Callow and Chris Asbridge, who did not get on, but are a crucial element in the recent resurgence of the team.
The wins against Rushen, Castletown and now Old Boys give a chance to this group of talented players, and whatever happens, since Christmas they have made us proud of their efforts. Narrow losses, some outstanding and unexpected wins and on occasions a standard of passing football which is great to watch.
It was a good team performance, but the outstanding performers were brothers Harry and Joe Walters, but it would have all been for nothing but for three great saves by John Palmer. All merited being Man of the Match, but this week, for his relentless effort, and his two goals, one of them a stunner, the Greens in the Valley Man of the Match goes to
Laxey Old Boys
Shots on target 7 6
Shots off target 7 6
Corners 4 8