Barnoldswick Town 2 West Didsbury & Chorlton 4
The start of a new season always brings the hope that the team will begin on a winning start, unfortunately for Town this wasn’t to be the case.
They suffered a blow before the start when, Harry Thompson failed a fitness test 20 minutes before kick-off and had to be replace by assistant manager, James Gill. That resulted in manager Stewart Airdrie discarding his suit for a football kit and a place on the substitutes' bench.
Didsbury's players were quicker on the ball, and their passing always seemed to find a man, whereas the Town play was sluggish, and the distribution was not up to scratch.
Gill had to make a last-ditch tackle after six minutes inside the Town penalty area to stop a Didsbury forward from scoring.
Two minutes later Liam Blades cynically cut down a Didsbury forward from behind to earn a yellow card. He was punished further as Gary Lilley scored from the 25-yard free kick.
All the running was being made by Didsbury so it came as a complete surprise when Town equalised after 36 minutes.
A corner from the right saw the ball played to the near post where Gill emerged from a melee of players to apply the finishing touch.
The euphoria of Town’s equaliser was short-lived. Two minutes later Blades again committed a foul, this time inside the penalty area. The referee awarded a penalty and gave a second yellow card to the defender which meant he was sent off.
Richard Gleave easily scored from the spot, but Town gave their supporters refreshed heart when Joel Melia, he won the ball just outside the Didsbury penalty area and fired past Didsbury keeper Jordan Hitchen from a tight angle to level the scores before half-time.
Edward Hall had to save Town twice right on half-time before the visitors had a goal disallowed for offside.
It only took Didsbury seven minutes to regain the lead after the restart. Lewis Schofield crossed for Gleave to head into the Town net, from close to the line.
Jerome Bryson should have made it 4-2 minutes later but he shot over the bar much to Hall’s relief.
But Bryson had the last laugh when he netted following some poor defending.
Didsbury hit the bar twice and the post once in the closing minutes as Town wilted.
Even the introduction of substitutes Chris Ridehalgh, Damon Whelan and Sam Reeves for Gill, Tom Marshall and Jake McEneaney did little to lift the ten-men.