|Sportspy reports from Boundary Park, Blackpool.|
An entertaining Premier Division Cup semi-final between Bispham Juniors and the Golden Eagle. Two controversial penalties in a game in which the lead changed hands three times.
This morning the Premier Division table showed the Golden Eagle in seventh position one point ahead of today's opponents, Bispham Juniors, who have a game in hand. With only a few league games left to play either side can now finish no higher than sixth.
Bispham have enjoyed a good first season in the Prem impressing a lot of people with their organisation and discipline. They've been at their best against the top clubs beating last season's Champions Wyre Waste FC before they folded and most recently ending Quilligans long unbeaten run with a brilliant 1-0 win. Golden Eagle have had another inconsistent season only managing to win two league games in succession on one occasion.
In the two league games the points have been shared. Back in November Bispham beat Golden Eagle 4-2 but earlier this month the Eagle took revenge with a 4-0 win. To reach today's semi-final Golden Eagle had beaten the Clarence 4-3 in the quarter-finals after a 1st Round bye and Bispham, who also received a bye in Round 1, had beaten lowly Kingsfield 3-0.
With the other semi-final being conceded by the Bloomfield WMC the winners of today's game could look forward to a final against strong favourites for the league title, Fleetwood Town FC.
Despite the clocks going forward referee Dave Wolfenden (Pictured above) got the game underway five minutes early with the Eagle, in the dark shirts, kicking towards the Argosy. It didn't look as though the loss of an hour's sleep suited the Eagle player very much !
Bispham manager Gary Briggs helps get one of his injured players back on his feet.
Bispham striker David Dean (Front), this season sporting a blonde hair-dye to disguise his once-ginger locks.
The first can of the day ? This Golden Eagle supporter sporting the correct headgear in the light rain.
For the opening 35 minutes the good turn out of supporters from both teams had little to shout about. The football was decent enough but each side appeared cagey with no real clear cut chances to speak of but then the match came alive on 36 minutes. The Bispham defence failed to clear the ball in the far corner and the half clearance fell to Sean Lomax on the edge of the box. He controlled it, knocked it past a defender and unleashed a powerful drive into the top left hand corner. It was in as soon as it left his boot, the BJ keeper hardly moved as it whistled past him.
The Golden Eagle players congratulate Lomax after his fine strike put them 1-0 up.
Unfortunately, as so often happens, they were still celebrating when Bispham equalised less than a minute later. A bursting run down the right flank from the tireless Dean took him to the bye-line, he loooked up then squared a low drive towards the edge of the six yard box for his strike partner Mark Cottam who made no mistake from close range.
In the dying momemts of the half Bispham had a geat chance to take the lead. The player beating the off-side trap but his lob over the keeper also dropped over the bar when he perhaps should have scored.
Half Time Score : Bispham Juniors 1 – 1 Golden Eagle
Bispham started the second half full of purpose and on fifty minutes they were awarded a penalty. An Eagle defender committed himself too early allowing the ball to reach Dean on the flank. With the Eagle defender grounded Dean took the ball towards the edge of the area where he was clearly tripped. Referee Wolfenden took his time and consulted linesman Dave Taylor before pointing to the spot. It was definitely a foul as Dean had no reason to go down it was just a question of whether it was inside the area or not. Dave Taylor decided that it was and that was that.
Mark Cottam (Far left) wheels away in celebration after scoring confidently from the spot.
Taylor's contoversial decision didn't make him overly popular with the Eagle players and one of them went too far in his criticism resulting in a rebuke from the officials.
The next fifteen minutes were the most crucial part of the game for me. The Golden Eagle were rocked by the penalty decision and Bispham looked sure favourites to score more and progress through to the final but they just couldn't get the importand third goal. Manager Briggs seemed to realise this and appeared to be growing more frustrated as his side continued to fail to capitalise on their majority share of the possession. Golden Eagle manager Dave Perry looked even worse as he went on an angry circuit of the pitch trying to regain his composure after the penalty decision
Then the turning point came. With Golden Eagle still struggling to get back into the game Bispham conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position just outside the area.
In the above picture the Eagle player fires in the free-kick. The shot rebounded kindly to Mark Frankel who thumped home the equaliser.
“It's in !” The Bispham keeper is still prone as the Eagle players celebrate making the score 2-2.
Five minutes later and we had the second controversial penalty decision. A Bispham defender was adjudged by Wolfenden to have pushed Dave Blundell around the corner of the box. Again the referee consulted his linesman and with every Eagle player screaming for a pen and every Bispham player screaming for a free-kick the young linesman didn't hesitate in letting the Ref know that he thought the infringement took place inside and once again Mr Wolfenden pointed to the spot.
Sean Lomax scores from the spot for Golden Eagle to make
Golden Eagle's two goal hero – Sean Lomax
Despite the best efforts of Bispham the Golden Eagle saw out the rest of the game with stout defensive resolution and went through to the final winning 3-2. Every credit to the Golden Eagle for sticking to it when going down 2-1 early in the second half due to that contoversial penalty. They looked dead and buried to me at one stage as Bispham pushed forward for a third but a one goal lead in the Sunday Alliance is often never enough and so it proved today. Bispham should have killed their opponents off but can can count themselves unlucky after today's result. The penalty decision for the all important third was very touch and go. Mr Wolfenden must have been pleased to have two 'proper' linesman to help him out today as it would have been a lot more contoversial if the decisions had been given by club officials. It would have also helped if the pitch was properly lined and the grass cut.
Good luck to Dave Perry and his Golden Eagle team in the the final.
Final Score : Bispham Juniors 2 – 3 Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle will be wanting some target practice perhaps before the final?