Sportspy Reports – May 8th 2005

Sportspy reports from a bright and breezy Highbury Avenue.

The final day of the 2004/05 Alliance season saw the Division 1 and Premier Division Cup Finals at the ground of Fleetwood Town FC. (New pictures of both finals now added)

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Harris & Co FC were recently crowned deserved winners of the highly competitive Division 1, adding the Division 1 Cup to their haul would make for a very nice league and Cup double.  They finished in the league on fifty-four points, four ahead of runners up McDonald Property FC.
In the Gledhill Cup Harris & Co were eliminated in Round 3 by Premier Division side Bloomfield WMC but it took two games after the first tie finished 1-1
To reach the final of this competition they received a bye in Round 1 before beating McDonald Property FC 4-2 in a replay after the first game finished 1-1.  In the semi-final they beat Castle Gardens FC 2-0.
Finishing the season as league champions and reaching this final is due to a seventeen match unbeaten run stretching back to December 12th last year when they lost to the Philharmonic.
Brannigans FC finished fifth in Division 1 which is a commendable position for a side promoted from 2A last season.  They won eleven and drew six of their twenty-six league fixtures.
In the Gledhill Cup they crashed out in Round 2 when losing 8-3 to fellow Division 1 side Castle Gardens.
In previous Rounds of this competition they’d had to beat West Coast Tackle Postal FC in Round 1, the Reform Health Club in a dramatic quarter-final when the score finished 4-3 and Fleetwood Cricket Club 2-0 in a hard fought semi-final.
In the two league meetings between the sides Brannigans FC came out on top taking four points from the six available.  They firstly drew 3-3 away back in September before beating them 2-1 at home in November.  Although Brannigans FC had lost the last three games of the season moral was high as you could see from the pre-match build up at so on recent form Harris were pre-match favourites.
In charge of this morning’s final were Mr Heaton with the whistle ably assisted by Graham Nixon and Samantha Halpin.

Brannigans FC (Manager Darren Meehan far left)

Referee Paul Heaton in charge of this morning's final

Harris & Co kicked off in their white strip with the advantage of the gusty wind behind them but it was Brannigans  who had the first real opportunity when Simon Bowden had a snapshot from the edge of the box comfortably saved.

Brannigans FC's Simon Bowden in the claret.

Keeper Andy Bellamy gathers well for Brannigans.

The match came alive midway through the first half.  Firstly Brannigans took the lead on twenty four minutes following a great move.  Skipper Paul Sumner player a searching long ball down the left channel.  Brett Baker's pace took him past a defender and his first time pass across the area was met by Paul Smith who smashed it past the Harris keeper.  1:0

Brannigan's manager Meehan asked his team for five minutes of concentration but he only got two as a mistake at the back cost his side an equaliser.  Harris & Co played a long ball through the middle for Rimmer to chase but keeper Bellamy called for it.   The Brannigan's rearguard was shepherding the ball back and it looked to be comfortably Bellamy's but he inexplicably took his eye off the ball and spilled it.  Rimmer pounced and showed great composure from the tight angle as he rolled the ball home for the equaliser.  1-1.

On thirty three minutes Harris took the lead.   A cross into the box was met by the head of Tony Rimmer who nodded home.  1:2.  Harris & Co were now in the ascendency and were unlucky not to extend their lead when a Brannigan's defender misjudged the flight of the ball and Moss's strike was well saved by the legs of Bellamy.

Rimmer heads home to make it 2-1

Half time score :  Brannigans FC 1-2 Harris & Co

With the wind behind them Brannigans started the second half the brighter and were unlucky not to equalise when a half chance from a corner had to be scrambled off the line.  Up the other end Moss was controversially pulled up by a late offside flag by Miss Halpin.  Two minutes later and almost a repeat of the earlier move saw Moss through on goal but this time the flag stayed down.  Moss attempted to go around Bellamy but he was clearly tripped and Mr Heaton had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.  Definite penalty on fifty three minutes.  Yellow card for the Brannigan's custodian.

Up steps Rimmer for the penalty.

Goal !  Rimmer (No. 5) hammers the ball high into the net for his hat-trick.  1-3

With the game in its now latter stages Brannigan's manager introduced Rab Moore up front and his added pace and strength added a new dimension.  They started to push further forwarded and began to apply good pressure on the Harris goal.  Simon Bowden went very close with a wind assisted drive that whizzed narrowly over the crossbar.

Harris keeper  Varley fights his way through the crowd to make an important catch.

The keeper was called up on again moments later.  A great ball over the top found Moore on-side.  He took it on confidently.  The shot beat the keeper hit one post, rolled along the line, hit the other post before falling kindly into the arms of Andy Varley.   A late let off for Harris.

Emery can only hold his head in his hands as Moore's shot against both posts is gathered by Varley.

That's how it finished.  Harris & Co deservedly making it a league and Cup double.  Their long unbeaten run continues into next season, they're still unbeaten in 2005.  A great forward performance by hat-trick hero Tony Rimmer who took my Man of the Match award.  As for Brannigans against the wind 1-0 up they were looking good if they could have just hung on for half time but the disastrous equaliser quickly followed by the second ultimately proved their undoing.  On reflection the Brannigan's first team will also look back on a memorable first season in Division 1.

Brannigans FC step up to collect the losers' medals.

The victorious double winning side of Harris & Co proudly show off the trophy.

Final score :  Brannigans FC 1-3 Harris & Co.

Alliance Champions Fleetwood Town FC finished their league programme off on Wednesday evening with a comfortable 6-0 win over Bloomfield WMC.  That win made it twenty wins from twenty games, a great achievement, they ended up winning the Premier Division with a twelve point margin.
Their only domestic loss came in the fourth round of the Gledhill Cup when they were defeated 2-0 at home by fierce rivals Quilligans who went on to win it.
In this competition they took some revenge on Quilligans when beating them 2-1 in the first Round.  In Round 2 they beat Poulton 4-0 and in the semi-finals they received a ‘home walkover’ after opponents Bloomfield WMC failed to raise a team.
Fleetwood Town’s Cup Final opponents today were Golden Eagle who finished eighth in the Premier Division, a slight improvement on last season’s tenth place.  The Eagle won five and drew five of their twenty matches. 
In the Gledhill Cup Golden Eagle were knocked out in Round 3 following a 5-0 home defeat to Division 1 side Layton Institute.
To reach today’s final they firstly received a bye in Round 1.  In the last eight they beat the Clarence 4-3 and in the semi-final I watched as they finally overcame Bispham Juniors 3-2 in an exciting game.
In the two league fixtures between the teams Fleetwood Town had taken all six points following a 12-0 home win on the opening day of the season and a 6-0 away win back in November.  Fleetwood Town were then strong favourites to lift the Melling Shield.
Officiating today’s game was Mr Scott-Rattray along with his assistants Dave Wolfenden and Ian Rose.

 The officials – Mr Scott-Rattray (centre) flanked by Dave Wolfenden (Left) and Ian Rose.

The Eagle kicked off with the wind advantage.  In the above shot Fleetwood striker Ian Vickers receives a face full of accidental elbow from the Eagle keeper,  After a few minutes of treatment the big fella was quickly back on his feet.

On eighteen minutes Fleetwood took the lead.  A free-kick from Lee Impett was well saved in the above photo by the keeper but  Mark Butler was first to react and he scored from close range.  1-0.

Tony Clowes fires a goal-kick downfield for Fleetwood.

Vickers loiters by the catering van

On twenty two minutes Fleetwood increased the lead and it was all Vickers.  Firstly, he drifted unmarked and on-side into the left hand channel.  He picked up the ball, held it up just long enough to play Impett in.  He then continued his run and got on the end of Impett's pass across the box.  His first time left footed strike just sneaked in at the far post despite the best efforts of keeper Calvert.  2-0.

Vickers celebates his goal with Lee Impett.

On thirty minutes Golden Eagle created their best chance of the half.  A floated cross into the box was met by the Eagle skipper and his header was unlucky to just go wide.

                                Half time score :  Fleetwood Town 2-0 Golden Eagle.

Fleetwood kicked off the second half with the strong breeze on their backs but it was the Eagle who started the second period the better with good spells of possession.

Three players receive treatment for injuries at the same time.

Both managers looked on concerned during this crucial stage of the match.  Dave Perry (Suit) of the Golden Eagle and Mick Kerr of Fleetwood Town.

At 2-0 down the last thing the Eagle needed was a controversial decision but they got one from Mr Scott-Rattray.  Mark Butler drove through into the box for Fleetwood and got his shot away but with few if any appeals from any of the Fleetwood contingent the referee pointed to the spot awarding a penalty for an infringement on Butler as he entered the area.  A harsh decision.

Mark Butler scores confidently from the spot sending the keeper the wrong way.

The penalty decision was even harder to swallow two minutes later as Golden Eagle deservedly pulled one back.  Clowes rushed out of his area but his clearance was charged down by Mark Frankel who took full adavantage as he firstly composed himself before firing into the far corner.  3-1.

Mick Kerr then made a triple substitution for Fleetwood and the introduction of fresh legs quickly made a difference.   

Vickers was fouled on the edge of the box and complains to the ref.

Mark Butler looked set to cross but instead placed the resultant free kick directly in at the near post.  4-1.

A crowded area of players watch Butler's free kick go directly in at the near post on 80 minutes.

As the Golden Eagle defence stand deflated they can only watch as…………….

Fleetwood Town celebrate.

That took the stuffing out of the Golden Eagle.  They now knew that it was a hopeless task.  The Alliance Champions were now playing with style and confidence adding two late goals.  Firstly Dave Moran beat the offside trap and lobbed the keeper to make it 5-1 and near the end the offside trap was beaten again and a great cross to the far post was converted by Paul Rimmer to make it 6-1 (Pictured above).  Not long after and the final whistle went.

Fleetwood Town FC rounded of a memorable season with more silverware in the shape of the premier Division Cup with a fully deserved victory.  Golden Eagle also deserve a lot of credit and the final score was tough on them.  Up until the penalty they were still well in the game but in the end the best team triumphed and Fleetwood Town go the whole season losing only once domestically.  Well done to them.  Can they carry on where they left off this season.  Time will tell.  

                                 Final score :  Fleetwood Town FC 6-1 Golden Eagle FC

Keeper Tony Clowes hoists the trophy.

The victorious Fleetwood Team of 2004/05 celebrate with champagne.

Fleetwood Town's biggest fan 'Jock' proudly shows off his celebratory banner.

Sportspy 2004/05

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