Sportspy Reports – April 24th 2005

The chase for the Division 1 title, one of the closest and most entertaining Alliance Divisions in recent seasons, had to be settled on Boundary Park this morning.  Leaders Harris & Co needed only a point against Argosy Sports & Social but a defeat combined with a McDonald Property victory who were playing Castle Gardens on the adjacent pitch would have resulted in McDonald finishing top of the league.  How did it end up ?

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Division 1 has been a brilliant league to play in this season with the outcome of every game being difficult to predict.  A quick analysis of the results this morning showed that there had been thirty six drawn games and forty four games settled by the odd goal.  It's possible that the team finishing third in this Division will do so after failing to win more than half of their games which is very unusual.  With all this in mind it was quite fitting that the race for the league title should go down to the very last game of the season for the two main contenders.  Having both games being played at the same time on adjacent pitches only added to the tension and made great viewing for the neutral.

A good crowd out on Boundary this morning in the mild weather including the usual man and his dog.

I started off watching the McDonald v Castle fixture and this proved to be a good decision as McDonald settled their nerves with an early goal.  A through ball was played over the top and Greaves beat the Castle keeper to the ball.  He coolly dinked it past him before rolling the ball into the back of the empty net with composure.  1-0.

On the next pitch an early Harris free kick hits the wall, setting up Argosy's break for their opener

Referee Mr Scott-Rattray takes a couple of names including that of McDonald skipper Mike Hartley.

Hartley's mood improved a few moments later as Argosy scored through Steve Taylor.  If the scores stayed the same then McDonald would be champions but there was a long way to go.

Argosy celebrate Steve Taylor's goal with a team spanking session.

Castle Gardens were certainly up for this game despite them likely to finish no higher than ninth in the league.  Shortly before half time they equalised.  A good cross from the right found Matt Shaw and his well won and brave header sneaked past Morrell in the McDonald goal.  Morrell thought it was safely going wide but he thought wrong. 1-1 – Game on

McDonald Property FC's latest acquisition Mo Sanneh originally from the Gambia for whom he's played one or two games apparently ? 

So at half time in both matches things were still finally poised.  Castle Gardens were holding McDonald 1-1 and Argosy were still leading Harris & Co 1-0.  Across then to watch the Argosy v Harris second half.  Argosy had opened the scoring in the first half through Steve Taylor who just beat the keeper to a ball over the top.  Taylor knocked it over the advancing keeper and into the net.

The tension threatens to boil over

There was a tense atmosphere on the sidelines in this game.  If Argosy had extended their lead then Harris would have been in real trouble but it was they who equalised not long into the second half.  A perfectly timed through ball found Ian Heslop one on one with the keeper.  Heslop hept his cool, looked up and lobbed the keeper sparking a pitchside celebration.  There were shouts of offside from the Argosy defenders but I was perfectly in line and when the ball was played Heslop was a yard on-side. 1-1

The Harris players and subs celebrate Heslop's equaliser.

James (Left) and Wayne Taylor at centre half for the Argosy.

Ten minutes later and Harris & Co took the lead.  An Argosy attack broke down and Harris came away on the break.  The Argosy back line was on the halfway line.  The pass was perfectly timed for the advancing Ronnie Moss and he took the ball on and slid it under the adavancing keeper. 1-2.  Once gain there were more shouts for offside but once again they were unwarranted as Moss was in his own half when the ball was played.

Ronnie Moss celebrates the goal

Ron Moss is congratulated by a the much relieved Harris Coach

With McDonald still level at 1-1 with Castle on the next pitch it looked all over but being Division 1 the drama still hadn't finished.  Argosy went down the other end and were awarded a penalty by Mr Maher after an Argosy striker was clearly upended in the box.

Steve Taylor (Out of shot) scores his second of the game from the spot.  2-2

Whilst in this picture taken by our other camera…

James Taylor climbs highest

Fun and games on the McDonald pitch as tempers flare

With fifteen minutes left in both matches the tension was beginning to heighten.  The Harris team knew that an Argosy goal in this game and a McDonald goal in the other would leave them in runners up position.  McDonald had a shot come down off the bar and the rebound was blazed over when it should have been easily converted.

Then fortunes changed again.  Stuart Holloway broke down the left for Castle, he cut inside and smashed it across Morrell into the far corner.  The Castle players celebrated like it was they who'd won the league and back over on our pitch more than one Harris player had their arms in the air in celebration.  Surely now the title was going to Fleetwood.

The final whistle goes and Harris & Co are crowned as Division 1 champions.  A 2-2 draw giving them the point they needed.  Pre-season I predicted it would be close and that 56 points would be enough but at the end of the day only 54 points were required to win this tight division.  McDonald, last season's Division 2A winners will have to console themselves with runners up spot.  Argosy and Sanctuary both have a chance of finishing third.  They both play their final games next Sunday.

Congratulations to Harris & Co from  Another Divisional title goes to a Fleetwood side. 

Harris & Co can now look forward to the Division One Cup Final clash with Brannigans FC on May 8th at Fleetwood Town's ground for a possible double.

Sportspy 2004/05


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