Premier Division side Quilligans FC make it through to the final of the Gledhill Cup after narrowly beating Division 1's Reform Health Club FC in a closely fought semi.
After Poulton's victory over Red Rose Catering in the first semi final last week at Blackpool Mechanics today's game would decide which team would join them in the final at Bloomfield Road. Near perfect conditions for football this morning at Squires Gate with calm weather and a flat dry pitch.
Quilligan's keeper Foster races out to the edge of the box to claim the ball ahead of Scott Waters.
Reform Health Club player/manager Dean Whitehouse (Front left)
Both sides elected to play a 3-5-2 formation and this set the tone of the game for the whole of the ninety minutes. With the middle third being packed with ten decent players this is where the majority of the play took place. Both teams started confidently with Quilligans shading position in the opposition half. They had the ball in the net after ten minutes but it was quite rightly ruled out by the referee after a foul on the keeper. The Reform keeper Stevenson made some good interceptions early on with excellent handling.
Lee Broadbent (Left) and Stuart Diggle for Quilligans.
Today's referee Mr Kevin Rial. I thought he had a good game. Not over fussy and kept the game moving.
On forty minutes Quilligan's striker Lee Broadbent limped off and before his replacement Paul Simpson could get on to replace him Quilligans took the lead. The ball was laid off to centre half Simon Garrick and from about twenty yards his fierce drive took a deflection and flew into the top corner. In the above shot the Reform keeper can only watch as the ball finds the net.
Half time score : Quilligans FC 1 – 0 Reform Health Club FC
Reform keeper Dave Stevenson makes a good catch in a melee of players at the start of the second half.
A Reform player receives treatment from injured 'Physio' Will Watt who was enjoying the break from running the line.
The crowd using every vantage point to get a good view of this one. With an important Premier Division fixture going on next door between Highfield Social and Fleetwood Town there were a few well positioned individuals managing to watch both games at the same time.
The second half started in the same vein as the first with very little goal-mouth action. As well as the packed midfield both back lines were defending brilliantly. At one end we had the experienced Butler, Garrick and Bracewell and at the other three relative newcomers with Nigel Marlow having a great game. The best early chance fell to Quilligans. A long ball into the right hand channel found Diggle and he let rip with a first time half volley that just flew over the bar.
Quilligan's Dave Butler screamed at the ref to get a grip so he duly did and booked him for dissent.
Reform then took off Hayes and Whitehouse and replaced them with Pritchard and Howarth. Danny Savage also making an entrance in the latter stages. Being 1-0 down they knew they had to come out and play sometime and as the half progressed the Division 1 side began to push forward troubling the Quilligan's rearguard. A long cross to the far post saw an off target headed effort make the keeper scramble across his goal.
With time running out another good move upfield from Reform ended with a diagonal ball into the box that the striker just failed to get on the end of. With gaps appearing at the back Quilligans counter attacked and set Simpson away free down the right. He looked up and played the perfect pass across the middle for strike partner Stuart Diggle to stab the ball home and put Quilligans through to the final.
The final whistle goes and the respective managers shake hands.
Final Score : Quilligans FC 2 – 0 Reform Health Club FC
In summary this wasn't a match full of chances and goal-mouth action but still interesting as to see who would come out on top in the midfield battle. Both sides defended very well all over the pitch. The 3-5-2 formation was a good tactic for Reform as it had paid dividends in previous Cup matches particularly up in Fleetwood against the Gasworkers. Quilligans deserved to win the game and go through but they were made to fight every inch of the way against a side that gave 110%. The Division 1 side made a good show of themselves and can take a lot of credit from the game. Quilligans mean defence kept yet another clean sheet and if they can get Broadbent and Sugden back fit up front then they're still on for the double.
So it's Poulton SFC and Quilligans through to the Bloomfield Road final. Quilligans have taken six points off them in the league but with the last game finishing 4-3 in the Premier Division leader's favour we could have an exciting Cup final to look forward to at the end of April/early May.
Don't forget to check out the full match report and more pictures when it appears on the Quilligan's website by clicking here