|Out on Blackpool Road, St Annes this morning watching the Division 3A match between Pump & Truncheon Celtic FC and the Mere Park FC.|
In the 2003/04 season Pump & Truncheon Celtic FC finished second bottom of Division 3A after only winning four games. Last season saw some improvement as nine wins and three draws placed them in tenth position in the final table. This season they got off to a great start when winning both of their opening two matches. In midweek they came up across title favourites Birkdale United and eventually ended up losing 5-1.
Pump Celtic's Irish manager Dave Smyth is one of the Alliance's great characters. He's now in his tenth season of managing this side which under previous sponsors has been known as the Blackpool Bowling Club, the Lifeboat and the Crazy Scots Bar. This morning Dave had three of his better players unavailable but still believed his team was capable of a win.
Today's opponents were Mere Park FC who were second in the table this morning one point behind Birkdale. Manager Darren Knight and his team have got off to an even better start. After two wins and two draws they're still unbeaten in the league. As Supreme Plastics FC they finished third bottom of Division 4 in the 2003/04 season but last season saw a major improvement as they went on to finish 6th in Division 3B managing ten wins and four draws throughout the campaign. This season they've re-named as the Mere Park and after their good start are fancied to do well this season.
This fixture was initially listed as without a referee but due to Print Plus being unable to field a team on Boundary Park this morning the allocated Ref, Wayne Taylor, made a late dash across town to step in and referee this one. It was therefore understandable that the game kicked off a few minutes late with Mere Park in the blue having the advantage of the wind behind them kicking away from the sea.
Both teams started the match quietly with Mere Park shading the early possession. Despite the strong wind behind them they concentrated on playing some good football rather than just hoofing it forward. An interchange of short passes found Gary Robinson wide right and he played over the perfect cross for the advancing Craig Worrall (Pictured above right). To be honest he was poorly marked by the Pump Celtic defenders, the ball hit his knee and flew past Celtic keeper Steve Deakin who had no chance of keeping it out. The opening goal coming on seventeen minutes. 0-1.
Pump Celtic stalwart John Coyle, the team's longest serving player tussles for the ball by the touchline.
Celtic keeper Steve Deakin makes a great save at the near post as Mere Park turn the screw.
On 35 minutes Mere Park's Sean Lonsdale was upended on the edge of the box. There were claims for a penalty but referee Wayne Taylor was well placed and made the right decision. In the above picture the Pump Celtic wall prepares to defend the resultant free-kick.
On this occasion it didn't do its job. The wall jumped up as one and Craig Worrall drilled it low and hard underneath them finding the back of the net to make it 2-0.
The goal came when Celtic were threatening to come back into the game. As half time approached they should have pulled one back when John Coyle missed a golden opportunity at the far post. He firstly missed the cross altogether but was again denied by the follow up when his sharp effort was well saved by Mere Park keeper Stevie 'T' Taylor.
Half Time Score : Pump & Truncheon Celtic FC 0 – 2 Mere Park FC
As the second half got underway the winds had eased off and the sun was threatening to come out. Pump Celtic kicked off in the second half but unlike Mere Park in the first forty five minutes didn't have much advantage from the wind. Mere Park had an early chance when a great shot from a corner was blocked on the line and cleared. The first twenty minutes of the half were crucial for both sides. Another goal for Mere would have killed off the game whilst a goal for Celtic would have put them right back in it.
Pump Celtic veterans John Coyle and Ed Fallon (Combined age of 87) still enjoying their Sunday football.
Pump Celtic's Italian striker Farina, not his day today.
Pump Celtic tried their hardest to make the breakthrough but a combination of resolute Mere Park defending and poor Celtic finishing denied them. All too often Pump Celtic overcomplicated things around the edge of the opposition penalty area when a few more shots might have paid dividends. In the end Mere Mark comfortably held on to take the points.
Mere Park's two goal hero Craig Worrall.
A deserved win then for Mere Mark. They keep their unbeaten record intact and stay second tonight behind Birkdale United who won away at Wrea Green. Gary Robinson of Mere Park took my man of the match award. He gave good distribution from the right to Worrall who was unlucky not to get his hat-trick. Big and strong with a good touch on the floor he'll score a lot more goals as the season progresses. Pump Celtic look a much better team this season and with a full compliment I'm sure they'll win a few more than they lose this campaign.
Final Score : Pump & Truncheon Celtic FC 0 – 2 Mere Park FC
What do Premier Division managers do when they're without a game ? Well Quilligan's supremo Mark Spedding turned out to referee the AFC Dunes v Pump & Truncheon match on the adjacent pitch. An easy game to Ref on this occasion with both cards staying firmly in the pocket.