DROYLSDEN ended a four-game losing streak in the Evo-Stik First Division North by coming from behind to beat Prescot Cables 4-3 at the Butchers Arms.
The visitors from Merseyside took an early lead when James McCulloch fired a low shot into the net before the Bloods responded emphatically through captain Steve Hall before half-time.
Rob Doran’s header put Prescot back in front 10 minutes after the break and Dominic Smith replied again for the hosts with a fine finish.
Substitute James Hampson rifled in to put Droylsden in front for the first time and substitute Smith assured their second league win of the season before Lloyd Dean poked home a late consolation for Cables.
Dave Pace’s men, who lost by the same scoreline in the FA Cup against Gainsborough Trinity last weekend, remain second-from-bottom in the eighth tier but will be encouraged by their spirit and ability to respond to setbacks although their defence is a huge concern.
The Bloods have now conceded 36 goals in 11 league games and also lost centre-back Hall to injury late on.
Droylsden begin rebuild but troubles remain
Droylsden boss Pace was in cordial spirits after a game that saw the east Manchester outfit show great character to come back from behind twice to secure a win that wouldn’t look out of place in last year’s campaign in which they finished 10th.
However, a very shaky start could have seen Droylsden lose the game before half-time. McCulloch’s 13th-minute goal led to a series of chances for Cables, who might have been four goals up in the opening half hour on another day.
Winger Phil Bannister did very well to pull Ben Barber and Jacob Wood out of position in the build-up but, on two occasions, could not convert with the final effort.
Indeed Droylsden’s defence look tame and bewildered for much of the first half as Joe Edger and Lloyd Dead would run riot for Prescot in The Bloods defencive third, yet for all their trying couldn’t build on their early lead.
Even luck looked to be against them at one point when, around the half hour mark, Doran beat Ged Murphy superbly to a Joe Edger cross, yet his header smashed the inside of the post before the loose ball was cleared.
Hall’s equaliser added some impetus to a squad that was playing like relegation candidates for most of the first half, but it was only after the half time whistle that things really started to look up for The Bloods.
All of a sudden, the Droylsden of last year came back, with midfielder Domaine Rouse dominating proceedings as a deep-lying playmaker, firing long balls with accuracy to wing men Koral and Hassler Gregg.
The high pressing football that has become the norm at The Butchers was back, and eventually paid dividends with Droylsden netting three times in the space of 20 minutes.
If that sort of intensity remains when they welcome high-flying Glossop North End and travel to relegation-threatened New Mills in the coming days, then Droylsden’s sluggish start may just be the footnote of a successful season.
Managerial masterstroke as substitutes change momentum
Although the likes of Rouse and Ben Barber managed to change the momentum of the game in the home side’s favour, it was Pace’s managerial abilities that came through during the interval.
The introduction of Hampson and Smith instigated a change in philosophy that caused Prescot major problems defensively.
The replacement of wingers Koral and Hassler Greed for the aforementioned forwards allowed for The Bloods to play their natural passing game rather than to try long balls to a very isolated Brandon Zibaka.
Their introduction also gave Zibaka vital support in the final third allowing him to showcase his skills off the ball and give space and time to Hampson and Smith, who were duly rewarded with three goals between them.
Cables left to rue missed chances
Meanwhile, in the away dugout, Cables boss Andy Paxton will be devastated that his side turned what seemed a winnable game into a defeat as his team ran out of ideas after the hour mark.
Chances galore were missed by the front three of Doran, Dean and Edger who should have killed the game before Droylsden had a chance to come back.
Nonetheless, The Tigers still scored three goals, although the timing of Dean’s injury time header made it merely a consolation.
It is a third consecutive loss on the road for the men from Merseyside, who will need to address their form on the travels – as well as their profligacy in front of goal – if they are to avoid being dragged into a relegation scrap for another year.
Droylsden: Ramsbottom, Antoine-Clarke, Barber, Wood, Murphy, Clarke-Adams (Pino), Rouse, Hall (c), Zibaka, Koral (Smith), Hassler-Gregg (Hampson).
Subs Not Used: Grimshaw, Haynes
Booked: Smith (‘74), Hampson (‘82)
Prescot Cables: Burgess, Flood, Mannion, Herbert (Joseph Evans), O’Reilly, Joe Evans, Bannister (Glean), McCulloch (c), Doran (Nicholson), Dean, Edgar.
Subs not used: Shinks, Hayes
Referee: Paul Tommes (Wales)
By Oliver Mackenzie at the Butchers Arms