Sportspy Reports – November 13th 2005

A visit to Broadwaters, Fleetwood this morning to watch the 4th Round Lancashire Sunday Trophy tie featuring Alliance Champions Highbury FC and Wigan Champions Abram FC.  On the same Sunday last season Abram FC came to Fleetwood and went away with a 3-1 win.  How would things turn out today?

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On November 14th 2004 Wigan side Abram travelled to play Fleetwood Town in the 4th Round of the Lancashire Sunday Trophy and went away 3-1 winners.  Both teams would go on to have very successful seasons.  Abram went on to reach the final of this competition for the second successive season where they lost to Blackburn side Mill Hill FC.  Domestically they won the South Lancashire Counties League Premier Division finishing eight points ahead of second placed Gathurst United. Although Fleetwood Town lost again the following week to Quilligans in the 4th Round of the Gledhill Cup those two games represented their only two defeats of the season.  Twenty-eight wins in league and Cup helped make them Alliance Champions as well as Premier Division Cup winners.This morning Abram were second in their Premier Division two points behind leaders Hawkley with a game in hand.  Fleetwood, playing as Highbury this season, were in eighth this morning six points behind leaders Cahoots with two games in hand. After a first round bye Highbury had already disposed of Castle Gardens in Round 2 and Farnworth Canary in Round 3 after extra time.  Abram also received a bye in round 1.  In round 2 they knocked out the Hare and Hounds (Bamford) and in round 3 they convincingly beat the Theatre Boys 9-0. All the pitches in Wigan were deemed unfit this weekend but over on the coast pitch 1 at Broadwaters had survived and was looking in good shape.  The wind had dropped, the rain had cleared and under clear blue skies local referee Dave Holloway got the game underway just after 11am in perfect autumnal conditions.  Highbury in white and green kicked off kicking towards The Nautical College.

Abram FC

Highbury FC observe the minutes silence on Remembrance Sunday.

Abram's player manager Ian Dennis.

Both teams settled quickly and soon began playing some good football.  Abram carved out the best of the early chances when Martin Billington burst through into the box and volleyed just over.  On seventeen minutes Highbury forced a corner and Steve Brookes with a powerful free header almost gained the lead but it flew over the bar.

Midway through the half and the home team were well on top.  Cygal was winning loads of ball in the air in midfield.  On twenty seven minutes Highbury deservedly took the lead.  Stuart Parkinson who was having a great game on the right wing received the ball out wide.  He played in a brilliant curling low cross behind the defenders and steaming in at the far post was Steve Perkes who made no mistake from close range. 1-0.

In the final ten minutes of the half Abram at last improved with left back Gaz Weigh becoming more influential on the game.  Just before the break an overplayed back pass from an Abram defender forced the keeper (Outside his area) to head it out for a corner which came to nothing.                                               Half time score :  Highbury FC 1 – 0 Abram FC

Abram keeper Steve 'Roley' Rowlands.

After something of a stern talking to Abram came out strong and determined.  On fifty minutes Perkes went close from a free-kick but the Abram wall above saw it safely cleared.On 56 minutes the Abram equaliser came.  Good work from Gaz Weigh down the left resulted in a cross into the box.  The number nine fluffed his chance when he should have scored but as the ball bounced in the area referee Holloway adjudged that Highbury's Paul Rimmer had impeded an Abram player – Penalty.Abram's Cal Jones stepped up and converted a great spot kick sending Tony Clowes the wrong way.  1-1.

Rimmer thought that the Abram player had gone down too easy for the penalty and this resulted in a skirmish.  In the above picture Clowes plays peacemaker in the opposition half.On fifty nine minutes things got worse for Highbury.  Abram broke down the right.  Highbury's Chris Topham (Otherwise solid in defence) didn't do enough to stop the cross.  The ball went across the area and Sean Clarke's scuffed shot took a slight deflection and beat Clowes.  1-2.  In the picture below the Highbury finger pointing begins.

Highbury were rocked.  Abram needed to consolidate for five minutes but they were not given a chance as their opponents went straight down the field and equalised.  The tricky Parkinson played another great cross into the box and with the keeper rooted to his goal line Frank Cygal steered it home.  2-2.

The Abram keeper receives treatment after a brave save at the feet of a Highbury opponent.

After the excitement of the first fifteen minutes of the half the last thirty minutes settled down again.  As the half wore on Highbury were being pushed further and further back with the front two becoming more isolated.  At the other end Abram were creating lots of possession but resolute defending especially from Brookes denied them any clear goal scoring opportunities.  After ninety minutes we went into extra time with the scores level at 2-2.

Stuart Parkinson.

Manager Mick Kerr made a few changes bringing on Impett up front and moving Perkes back into midfield.  They started the first period of extra time with an increased attacking focus.Two minutes before the break they took the lead. A throw from the left was played infield.  Impett, aware of his surroundings, played a clever chest pass into the path of Chris Brandes who advanced on to it and let fly with an unstoppable right foot shot from twenty five yards that arrowed into the bottom corner giving Abram keeper Rowlands no hope.  3-2

Highbury celebrate Brandes' fine strike.

                                 After the first period of extra time Highbury led 3-2.

Highbury again go close from a free kick just outside the box.

Abram desperately chase the equaliser.

                                            Final score :  Highbury FC 3 – 2 Abram FCIn summary this was a highly entertaining fixture played out between two good sides well worthy of the pre-match hype and build up.  It was confidently and decisively officiated by young referee Dave Holloway.  Overall I thought Highbury well deserved their victory.  They were much the better side in the first half and should have gone into the break with a greater advantage.  In the second half Abram were much improved and ten minutes of composure would surely have won them the game after they took a 2-1 lead but it wasn't to be.  An impressive performance especially from number 3 Gaz Weigh before he had to go off.A massive win then for Highbury over one of the best teams in Lancashire.  They looked back to their best today fielding a strong side.  Great performances from Parkinson, Cygal and Brookes.  They go through to the last sixteen along with Quilligans, Poulton and the Clarence and possibly Layton Institute who are yet to play.  If our teams carry on playing with such belief and confidence it might just turn out to be our year.  Still, a long way to go.Now, is it too much to ask for a Blackpool home win against Scunthorpe live on Sky ? (Sorted Sportspy!)

Sportspy 2005/

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