Manchester Titans had their first home game of the 2015 season versus the Halton Spartans, who were starting their first season in BAFA.
Halton had won against Carlisle and Crewe so were tied with the Titans with a 2-0 record atop the Division. Manchester’s first drive came to an abrupt end, when after 6 plays, WR James Newnes fumbled the ball after a 15 yard catch. The Titans defense quickly forced a 3 and Out and the Offense got the ball back after a short punt.
Some powerful running by Jon Gago and Adim Irozuru moved the ball down to the Spartans 1 yard line where Gago punched it in. The missed extra point made the score 6-0. On the next series, Manchester again forced a punt, but a good kick pegged the Titans back on their own 5 yard line. But the Offense took only 5 plays to march 85 yards to score, with Newnes catching a 1 yard TD pass. Ryan Newton added the extra point for a 13-0 lead.
Titans DB Matt Wells ended Halton’s next possession with an interception and Manchester took full advantage with QB Alan Mead lofting a 30 yard TD pass to WR Driss Mokhtari. The extra point attempt was again no good, leaving the score 19-0. Manchester’s defense forced another Spartans punt to end the 1st quarter. The Titans moved 65 yards in 6 plays, the bulk of it on a 49 yard bomb from Mead to Newnes. WR Stephenson Ardern-Sodje caught a 4 yard TD pass to put the Titans up 25-0.
As Mead was leaving the field, a late hit by the Spartans #52 sparked a melee which resulted in 3 ejections by the officials. On Halton’s next possession, Titans DB Ainsley Battel made his 2nd Interception of the season to end another drive. RB Matt Kinsey immediately ran 17 yards before a 30 yard run by Ryan Newton moved the ball into the Halton red-zone. Mead then threw his 12th TD pass of the season to TE Chris Heap from 8 yards out. Newton’s kick made it 32-0.
A deep kickoff by Kinsey left the Halton returner struggling and he was tackled inside his own 5 yard line. On the very next play, DL Temi Sobowale burst through the Spartan line and forced a fumble that Titans DL Mike Ripley recovered at the 1 yard line. Kinsey powered the ball home on the next play, and with Newton’s kick, the Titans were up 39-0. After another Halton punt, Manchester was driving again when Mead was sacked and fumbled, and the ball was scooped out of the air by Spartans DL Lee Lamb and he ran 55 yards before being chased down by Kinsey. The Titans stout defense managed to keep Halton out of the endzone though as the half ended.
Because of the 35 point lead, the 2nd half would be played with a rolling clock and scoring opportunities were reduced. The Titans Defense, led by Sobowale and LB Phil Carson, forced the Spartans to punt again. But on the next play Mead was sacked and fumbled again with Halton recovering. But Sobowale sacked the Spartans QB to snuff out their next possession. Manchester was unable to pick up a first down and were forced to punt, but DB Steve Spence picked off another Halton pass and returned it 37 yards to score. Newton’s PAT made it 46-0. Chris Payne took over at QB for the Titans and immediately hit Newnes on a 20 yard pass.
A 23 yard run by Ryan Newton, put the ball on the Spartans 2 yard line but subsequent penalties and 2 sacks of Payne, forced the Titans into a 50 yard FG attempt by Kinsey which fell short. No further scoring took place as the rolling clock limited possessions by both teams. The game finished with a score of 46-0 as the Titans took sole possession of the division with a home fixture against the 0-4 Walney Terriers next on Sunday 24th May.
As both teams enjoyed a post-game drink in the AJ Bell Stadium Fan Bar, Titans GM Jon Homer announced the game MVPs. For the Spartans RB #44 Martin Murphy was named Offensive MVP and DL #98 Lee Lamb was named Defensive MVP. For the Titans QB #12 Alan Mead was the Offensive MVP for his 4 TD passes, and DL #95 Temi Sobowale was Defensive MVP for his 7 tackles, 1 sack and a Forced Fumble.