South Manchester derby

NWCFL: Josh Tinker set to be marked man in South Manchester derby after leaving Maine Road for West Didsbury & Chorlton

JOSH Tinker has been getting a ribbing off his mates on social media this week. That will happen when you leave one team for their local rivals, just 3 weeks before they’re due to face each other.

That’s exactly what the versatile full-back did earlier this month, leaving MAINE ROAD to cross the Chorlton divide and join WEST DIDSBURY & CHORLTON.

Now the North West Counties Premier rivals will lock horns in tonight’s South Manchester derby and Road boss Chris Hirst reckons Tinker’s defection gives the Brantingham Road clash added spice. The 24-year-old was once a team-mate of Hirst’s and went on to make 137 appearances for Road, either side of a brief spell with Stockport Sports in 2013/14.

“The lads are a lot more up for it than other games,” Hirst told Beyond the Big Two. “I won’t have to talk about motivation. There’s a few people there they want to impress and one of our lads has just joined them so we want to get one over on him. The lads have been sending him some stuff on Twitter.

“We always put lads in young and develop them. Then they become Maine Road-type players, full of energy and doing everything quickly. Josh was like that. He played here with me. I was 18 and I think he was 17 at the time. He came through the reserves and we gave him a chance when not many other teams at this level would.

“We always say to our lads that when you do go, try to go to the league above, maybe even higher. We’ve seen Matt Warburton go to Curzon Ashton and do really well. Connor Hughes went there last year and is back here now. We want them to make a step up and try to push up the leagues.

“Tinks wanted to go to a team in our league, who are probably even with us at the minute, they’re around us in the table, so that was disappointing because he’d been here so long. But he made his decision and we wish him all the best – we just hope he’s on the losing team tonight!”

Josh Tinker attempts to tackle Saul Henderson in the reverse fixture
Josh Tinker attempts to tackle Saul Henderson in the reverse fixture

Hughes joined Curzon last March but returned from the National League North side over the festive period. And the 22-year-old striker scored his 5th goal in 9 games on Monday night as Road bounced back from 3 successive 1-0 defeats to win 2-0 at home to Padiham.

The following night Hirst saw West Didsbury & Chorlton stretch their unbeaten run to 5 matches against Barnoldswick. It would have been a 4th straight win but the visitors, who are 15th in the table, came back from 3-0 down at half-time to claim a 3-3 draw. That left West in 7th place, with Road 5 points behind them in 12th.

“When we’re good, we’re very good,” said Hirst. “Two weeks ago, for about 70 minutes we played Atherton Collieries off the park, and I think they’re the best team in the league. We missed 4 great chances and then they scored in the last minute. Even they said at the end that they robbed us.

“We were missing some key players at Bootle then we were poor at Irlam. The lads looked tired so we changed it on Monday night. We brought a few younger lads in and they did brilliantly.

“Some of the West Didsbury lads were there and I’m sure they would have been impressed. We went to watch them on Tuesday and they did really well 1st half, played the ball quickly and were quite attacking. But 2nd half Barnoldswick were really good. Once they got going I couldn’t believe they’re as low in the league as they are.”

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Pictures from the reverse fixture on December 27

The South Manchester derby is a relatively new concept, with this only West’s 4th season in the NWCFL Premier, and although Road did the double over them in 2013/14, there hasn’t been much between the local rivals since.

They drew 1-1 at Brookburn Road in a hard-fought game over the festive period, which attracted West’s best-ever crowd of 674, and Hirst hopes what is still a friendly rivalry can continue to generate such interest.

“The games are always really competitive and it’s great for both clubs,” added the Road boss. “Last season we beat each other 1-0 and I think people would have been happy watching the last game over Christmas. It was fast, it was aggressive, there was a lot of big, strong tackles. It all adds to it.

“They scored when we went down to 10 men because Josh Tinker, funnily enough, had to come off to replace his contacts! We came into it in the last 20 minutes, their keeper made a mistake and we put it on. A draw was probably a fair result and I think we’re relatively even in terms of where both of us are at as a club.

“They’ve got some good individuals at the club. I played with their manager, Steve Settle, briefly at Mossley, and I know their secretary, Rob McKay. He’s a lovely lad and I spoke to him quite a bit at Tuesday’s game.

“There is a bit of a rivalry. You always want to come out on top when you’re playing a local team. And with Tinks coming back after deciding that’s a better move for him, it adds to it all a little bit. Hopefully it will make for another exciting game.”

There promises to be a hard-fought Manchester derby in the NWCFL First Division tomorrow as well as 8th-placed Prestwich Heys host 9th-placed Chadderton.