As FC Isle of Man’s 2024/25 campaign in the Northern Premier League Division 1 North West entered into February 2025, Douglas born striker Orville Reid was wondering what he had to do to get into manager’s Chris Bass’ mind.
By this point, 19 year old Orville had hit the net 19 times in 18 starts for The Ravens’ U23 side yet Bass had overlooked him all season long for 17 year old Andy Smyth as the go-to backup for 1st team strikers Brian Esperance and James Sunderland.
With the title race with Radcliffe Borough heading towards an exciting climax (Radcliffe would go on to win the league by a single point on the final day), a season ending injury to Brian Esperance against Bamber Bridge on 22nd February 2022 opened the door for one of FC Isle of Man’s young strikers. 18 year old Andy Smyth was given the nod ahead of Reid but a poor performance in the first game without Esperance (3-2 home defeat to Skelmersdale) meant Smyth had returned just 2 goals from 11 appearances. Manager Chris Bass decided it was time to throw in Orville Reid.
So, injury to legendary striker Brian Esperance and poor performances by Andy Smyth was finally the good fortune that eventually gave Orville Reid an opportunity in the 1st team. West Auckland Town were the visitors to The Bowl on 5th March 2025 in a vital league game that FC Isle of Man desperately needed points from to keep up with leaders Radcliffe Borough.
To set the scene, over 1,000 Ravens supporters were at The Bowl on an overcast afternoon. James Sunderland and Wesley Magee had put the Ravens in a commanding position with 2 second half goals and things were looking rosy. With the bright glow of the floodlights burning the black Douglas sky beyond it, the atmosphere in the ground had been almost fatally punctured with 2 goals for West Auckland in the 87th and 89th minute to bring it to 2-2. Title chances were fading fast, what followed in the 90+4th minute was a moment of pure magic.
Ravens central midfielder James Jordan intercepts a West Auckland Town throw-in deep in FC Isle of Man’s half. Under pressure from West Auckland’s pressing attacking midfielders, Jordan launches the ball forward, anywhere will do at this stage with momentum well and truly with the visitors. Some of the Ravens supporters have begun to leave the ground expecting the final whistle to sound very shortly…
With none of his team-mates open for a pass, Reid has no option but to try and carry the ball forward, perhaps head towards the corner flag and run-down the clock, West Auckland Town have really turned the screw the last couple of minutes looking for a winner a bit of respite is needed…
In an instant the atmosphere within The Bowl has changed. Reid has beaten his marker and suddenly it has all opened up, look at all the space Reidy can run into. The supporters leaving the ground decide to pause their exits and plant their feet firmly on the floor.
Reid is not the paciest of strikers nor is he quite the quickest with the ball at his feet. Reid is managing to keep the chasing pack at bay, but only just and the other centre-back is making ground on the young striker quickly as he approaches the West Auckland penalty box…
The West Auckland Town keeper makes moves towards the advancing Reid, narrowing the angle, the target is shrinking fast for Reid. The chasing defenders are really putting the young man under pressure here. How many times do you see a breakaway chance snuffled out? Reid manages to strike his left foot at the ball at the very last moment…
The outcome is good, a delicate shot from the inside of his left toe with just enough back lift and power to float over the keeper and it lands just inside the netting at the far post. The Bowl is on it’s feet, 3-2 to the Ravens, right at the death!
The FC Isle of Man players rush to congratulate 19 year old Orville Reid knowing he has just won the game for them in the final minute of added time. Manager Chris Bass with a victorious grin on his face punches the air towards the Ravens celebrating behind the dugouts. Even the injured Brian Esperance is off his seat in the stand, defying medical advice.
Orville Reid went on to score a further 8 goals in the games that remained, including a hat-trick against Atherton Collieries. As we all know, the 2024/25 season ended painfully for FC Isle of Man with defeat in the playoff final against Ashford United. All that aside, Orville’s goal that evening is a moment that will live long in the FC Isle of Man memories.
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