Mannington City striker Angel Gabriel celebrates after scoring the 3rd of his 5 penalties. Critics of the big-spending club are not convinced they play "football as we know it - ie the Mannington United way".
In what proved to be a hugely disappointing night of football, Mannington City failed to progress to the knock-out stages of the DCL last evening despite beating Shapwick Dons 11-0. Results in other games mean that City, the hotly tipped favourites for the competition, still have to gain at least one point from their next 12 games to progress in the competition. Independent observer and former Mannington United forward Fernando Riotinto said the result could only be seen as a disaster in the context of the side's high spending and absurdly high ambitions. "Only a convincing win last night would have sealed the deal", the former United striker turned pundit said, "the fact that they will almost certainly qualify in the next game shouldn't be seen as any kind of redemption - this is a side which has spent big and needs to prove itself in the bigger competitions". "Ok so they have won 16 trophies in the last three seasons, scored more goals and amassed more points than any side in history. But what does that mean? They haven't won the big one yet and that's what counts", he continued.
The game itself was dogged by controversy when the referee awarded no less that 5 penalties, none of which according to experts was justified - "four were outside the box (one on the half-way line) and the fourth was never hand-ball", former referee Keith Karnt-Hakitt said. All five were scored by City's South American talisman Angel Gabriel. "Take away those penalties and they would only have won 6-0", Mr Riotinto said.
Meanwhile controversy off the pitch continues to dog City, with Dorset authorities set to react to stories in Der Kimmeridge Allgemeine Zeitung alleging financial irregularities over the Pendelton's Ice Cream Concession at the Whisky-McNightly Stadium in what the paper describes as "a clear breach of Dorset FFP rules". Recent leaks have also suggested that Mannington City officials overcharged for programmes, disguised payments from interested parties (including shirt-sponsors The Hornimint Company) and sold player's image rights to cigarette card companies during the 1954-5 season.
"All in all its a bad time to be associated with the club", Mr Riotinto opined. "They may be flying high in the Dorset League, remain in all the cup competitions playing hugely entertaining football and they continue to be favourites for the DCL but there's more to football than winning - as Mannington United continue to show".
City's much admired coach Pep Sodent declined to comment.
In other more important news, Mannington United came back from a goal down to beat Upcerne 1-2. "It was a great night for the lads", every commentator agreed, "After 18 straight defeats they deserved to win and it showed huge character to come back as they did. United are a great side historically and still are. Furthermore, they will always be a great side even if they get relegated. It's the law", a spokesperson for the Dorset Football Association said.