|Out in the Autumn sunshine at Commonedge Road checking in on a number of teams across the Divisions.|
In the main match we saw the visit of Division 3B side Blackpool Rangers who were away at the Links Reserves. This morning Rangers were top of the table on goal difference ahead of Progress Property Services. The young side are playing their first season in the Alliance after coming straight up from the Under 17's youth league. They've had a great start and midway through October they're still unbeaten after eight wins and a draw in their first nine games. Manager John Miles has them playing good football on the deck and with a decent level of fitness they fear no-one in the Division.
Today's opponents were the Links Reserves. They were in sixth position this morning. In their first nine games they've managed four wins and a draw. In recent weeks they've been dealt some tough fixtures. After a good 6-0 win against the Royal Oxford they then went on to draw 3-3 with Weeton. Last week they were up against second placed Progress Property and they were playing well before a very late collapse saw them lose 3-0. How would they go on against the table toppers this morning ?
If anybody was unsure about the attraction of Sunday morning football in England in mid October then they should have been out watching this morning. Perfect Autumn conditions.
Early pressure on the Links Reserve's goal.
Blackpool Rangers ' Sean Bimpson.
Reserve keeper ? No, just one of the Links' midfielders requiring gloves to keep out the Autumn chill ?
Ranger's striker Peter Floyd (Left)
This game was a great advert for the lower Divisions with some great passing football being played by both sides. A strong and powerful run from Floyd saw him burst through one on one against the Links keeper but he was denied at short range by a good reaction save. Rangers keeper Brown was then called into action when he pulled off a fantastic save, tipping a long range Links drive onto the cross-bar. Rangers had most of the first half possession and chances but the Links were well organised and also looked well capable of scoring. At half time it was 0-0. I went back for the last five minutes and it was still 0-0. That's how it ended but it was far from being a dull goalless draw. Rangers may look on it as two points dropped but they were up against a rapidly improving side today. Another good performance from the Links Reserves but a day when Rangers just couldn't find the back of the net.
Elsewhere Premier Division Cahoots FC (Second) were at home against Bispham Juniors FF (Tenth) Cahoots took the league early through Dan Sutton who'd recently returned to the team after being out with a long term injury. On twelve minutes Bispham equalised. A Cahoots pass back, a bad bobble and a lack of concentration from keeper Speight allowed Cottam to rob him of the ball. Cottam was initially forced out wide but with good composure he cut in from the right and played the ball across goal. Eventually the ball fell to Julian Hadden who swept the ball home for the equaliser.
In the end this match finished 2-2. After the final whistle the Cahoot's players were involved in a full and frank exchange of views with referee Tony Zak who had awarded Bispham a last minute penalty. The converted spot kick denied Cahoots a win but they go back to the top tonight on goal difference. The 'Purples' are still unbeaten in the league and going well. Bispham's recent run of good form also continues.
Brannigans Reserves Keeper Danny Brown
In Division 2B sixth placed Brannigans Reserves (Claret) were away against the Links Hotel (Fourth). Brannigans had shown some improvement recently taking seven points from the last twelve. In stark contrast the Links Hotel had lost four in a row and after a good start to the season were starting to struggle. Links took the lead early on but when I arrived Brannigans were 3-2 up at half time.
Scott Robinson with his first Alliance goal today
Alan Varley having a flashback to friday night
Brannigans started the second half on fire and two great goals firstly from Scott Robinson quickly followed by Ben Fenton looked to have given them an unassailable 5-2 lead. Brannigans Reserves manager and liner Guy Gillespie claimed full credit for excellent early play in the second period. “I know what I'm talking about and don't you forget it!” he screamed as his half time formation change and substitution paid dividends.
The Links came good in the latter stages and Brannigans looked decidely nervous as the Links pulled it back to 5-4. Gillespie was now on the pitch but it wasn't for long as referee Mahoney ordered him off to the changing rooms for violent conduct. A further reduction in club funds diverted away from the end of season party. Still, on a brighter note they held on for a 5-4 win. Unlucky Links but the Geordie supporter who thinks he can abuse referees because “I'm on a public park and therefore I can say what I like and the ref can do F*** all about it” should stay at home.
Division One top scorer John Emery in a reflective moment
On the adjoining pitch the Brannigans first team was at home to the Squirrel. The Squirrel were well and truly beaten 12-4 last week by the Dunes, a low point for an already struggling side. They're actively trying to recruit new players so if you're interested E-Mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll pass on your details. Even manager Martin Ramsden turned out last week so things are really getting desperate.
Squirrel veteran Eddie Kay earns a yellow for an exuberant challenge
A smug look of great satisfaction on the face of Ref Paul Heaton. I think he'd just shown someone else the yellow card. One of our top local officials, he also officiates Premier League Academy matches on saturdays.
Squirrel's answer to Peter Crouch – Adrian James – was effective in build-up play today showing some neat touches but was expertly marshalled by Brannigan's centre half Martin Percival (right), who admitted to losing one challenge in the air today – to his partner at the back Ian Nicholls!
It ended up being a good win for Brannigans (2-0). After a recent wobble they look to be rekindling some of their early season form. In this close Division they're still very handily placed to challenge for promotion. As for the Squirrel they gave a much improved performance this morning and during the twenty minutes I was there they were unlucky not to score past Brannigans' excellent young keeper Chris Malkinson. Let's hope they can recruit some new blood soon for the long harsh winter ahead of them.