|The first trip of the season to Broadwaters at Fleetwood this morning to watch the Division 1 game between Kings and Castle Gardens as well as the Premier Division match between champions Highbury and Bispham Juniors.|
This morning Kings FC were in sixth position on eight points. Their only league defeat thus far had come against the Dunes. In the first round of the Gledhill they were unluckily knocked out in a replay on penalties by the Argosy Sports & Social Club. In recent weeks they'd been playing well and had picked up six points from wins against Brannigans and most recently Red Rose Catering FC who they beat last time out.
Opponents Castle Gardens were level on points but had played two games more, they were eighth in the table this morning. Castle had won two, drawn two and lost three. Two of those defeats came against the Dunes. After a first round bye they were knocked out of the Gledhill in Round 2 by Premier Division side St Annes Ex Service. Unusually, the Castle had been finding it hard to find the net so far this season but a 4-1 win against Brannigans last Sunday showed the early signs of some improvement.
Bright and breezy at Broadwaters. The overnight rain had left the pitches in A1 condition, the best I've seen all season anywhere on the Fylde.
On five minutes the Castle's young keeper had his first touch. Unfortunately, in the above picture he had just fished it out of the back of the net. His defence had conceded a needless free kick just outside the area and then went collectively to sleep as Kev Perkes' clipped free kick found Tommy Loughran on-side and his looping back header eluded the grasp of Wilkinson. Keeper Wilkinson went on to have a great first half, he looks to be a good prospect with a safe pair of hands and an unflappable attitude.
On twelve minutes Castle equalised. Chris Pawson made a good run down the right flank and then flashed the ball across goal. An arrogant back heel flick from Robbie Walsh beat Kings' keeper Smith at the near post. 1-1
Kings FC's player manager Paul Perkes.
Kings keeper Mark Smith
On 32 minutes after a period of dominance Castle Gardens took the lead but in an unexpected and controversial fashion. Following a set piece Kings keeper Mark Smith gathered the ball and advanced towards the edge of his own area with the ball safely in his hands (See above picture). As he set himself to boot it upfield a Castle Gardens player surprised him from behind and forced him to drop the ball (Legally ruled referee Zak). The ball fell to Holloway who made no mistake as he casually lobbed it back over Smith and into the net. Uproar ! Keepers always blame goals on others but on this occasion Smith only had himself to blame. He'll never get caught out like that again. 1-2.
After a brief meeting before the committee a couple of the ex Old Vic squad were back playing again this week after an absence of over twelve months. Richard McSymons pictured above and Michael Anderson were in the Kings line up this morning.
The Castle Gardens defensive wall.
Towards the latter stages of the half Kings started to play some better football and once or twice young Wilkinson was tested in the Castle goal but he spilled nothing. On the stroke of half time Castle extended their lead. This time Andy Watson cut in down the right, squared the ball for Holloway who's first time sweeping right foot drive beat Smith in the bottom corner. 1-3.
That was almost the last kick of the half. I then went on to watch Highbury v Bispham Juniors. In the second half Castle Gardens continued their impressive first half performance and went on to win 6-2. That win will take them up a few places in the table tonight. Ten goals in two games. If they can stay tight defensively we may yet see that long overdue Castle Gardens challenge for a top three place.
After last season's triumphant march to the Premier Division title in which they won all twenty of their league games champions Highbury FC started off in similar fashion winning their first three matches. However, a recent run of three straight league defeats has made them realise that it will be a lot harder this season if they're to retain the title. They were in fourth this morning. Those three league defeats were interspersed with an 8-3 home win over the Shovels in Round 2 of the Gledhill.
Bispham Juniors were today's visitors. They've had a slow start to the season through little fault of their own. Although down in twelfth without a league win and with only two points to their name they'd only managed to play three league games. Draws against Cahoots and Golden Eagle along with a 5-0 defeat against Quilligans represented their league season so far. In the Gledhill they'd got through a tough looking tie against fellow Premier Division side Kingsfield FC. Last season Highbury came away with all six points following a 4-1 win at home and a 3-2 away win against Bispham.
At half time Highbury led 1-0 through a twentieth minute goal from Darren Hayton wh beat his man before exquisitely chipping the keeper.
Bispham's Tom Briggs who had a good second half at centre back.
Highbury's left back Chris Thompson.
Referee Steve Maher, busy in the early stages of the half before things settled down.
Bispham manager Gary Briggs had called the first half pretty much even and was happy with his team's performance in which they created three or four decent chances. The second half started in similar manner with few if any clear cut chances for either side. Bispham had a great opportunity to level but the striker's attempted lob just dropped over the bar with the keeper stranded. At the other end Fleetwood were starting to play some great football stringing passes together. Dave Moran especially was troubling the Bispham defenders ably supported by Parkinson and Steve Perkes in the centre. On 77 minutes the latter was fouled on the far side. Referee Maher went and had a good look before pointing to the spot. Few arguments from the Bispham players. In the picture below Stuart Parkinson converts the penalty kick. 2-0
Highbury's Dave Moran, by far the team's best player in the second half.
The penalty all but sealed the points for Highbury as they comfortably saw out the rest of the match. They even enjoyed the added bonus of scoring a third with the very last kick of the match when Frank Cygal puposefully deflected in Paul Rimmer's shot from the edge of the box. The 3-0 scoreline was a little harsh on Bispham who've now lost against Quilligans and Highbury but with only four matches played you can expect to see a lot more from them as the season progresses.
Highbury ended their recent run of three straight defeats with a much improved performance today. Next week they face Castle Gardens in the second round of the Lancashire Sunday Trophy and it doesn't get any easier the following week when they face Quilligans away in the third round of the Gledhill.
The next fortnight has great importance for a good number of Alliance teams. Hopefully, all our big guns will do well in the Lancashire Trophy next Sunday before returning to important Gledhill action on October 9th. A fortnight that may help define the rest of the 2005/06 season for many of our sides.