The overnight mist and fog was a little slow to clear but the games were never in any danger of not going ahead. Today saw the opening round of the Division 2 Cup that was won last season by Red Rose Catering FC. Eight sides were in action down at Commonedge Road.
First up were Division 2A leaders the New Castle FC who were up against much improved Brannigans Reserves FC of 2B. The New Castle went into the match eight points clear at the top of their Division with a game in hand over nearest rivals Little Fat Jacks. Still unbeaten in league action this season their only defeat of the campaign so far came against Premier side the Clarence in the fourth round of the Gledhill.
Brannigans Reserves are having a decent season in Division 2B. Last week they were narrowly beaten 3-2 by leaders Christ the King despite fielding an understength side. Brannigans were in fifth this morning and after an indifferent start they’re becoming a lot harder to beat.
Craig Byrom (Out of picture) heads a Curt Smith corner powerfully past the Brannigan’s keeper Danny Brown to give his team a seventh minute lead.
Despite going behind Brannigans were playing some good football and on twenty minutes they deservedly equalised. Great persistence down the right resulted in a Brannigan’s player dispossessing a hesitant Castle defender on the byline. He cut inside, pulled the ball back invitingly for captain Mattie Wannell who swept it home. In the picture below the Castle defenders start the blame game. It was hard to tear myself away from this one as it looked a good game when I left at 1-1. In the end the New Castle had to grind out a 2-1 win thanks to a last minute winner against spirited opposition to put them through to Round 2.
On Pitch 4 we had Claremont Cons (2A) playing the Links Hotel of Division 2B. Claremont were third in the league this morning eleven points behind the New Castle with a game in hand. They look certain of finishing in the top four with promotion to Division 1 a distinct possibility. Opponents Links were ninth in Division 2B. Five wins, one draw and nine defeats have fiven them sixteen points and a top six finish realistically looks beyond them this season unless they can put together a very strong finish.
When I got there Claremont were 1-0 up.
Claremont’s Chris Cairns who more than played his part in Squires Gate’s impressive FA Vase win yesterday against Gedlington Town. For Gate he led the line well showing great hold up play. Today he was playing his midfield creative playmaker role for Claremont always seeming to have twice as much time on the ball as everyone else.
Just before half time Claremont forced the ball over the line to give them a 2-0 lead. They went on to win the game 3-2 but it wasn’t easy against hard working Links who never gave up.
In one of the most attractive looking Cup fixtures of the day 2A’s Talbot Sports & Social were matched against Division 2B leaders Christ the King. The Talbot were fourth in the Division a good way behind leaders New Castle but still very much in with a chance of a promotion spot. Christ the King are looking to make it two promotion’s in succession. They’re currently top of 2B a point above second placed CLS Wyre with a game in hand. When I arrived the Talbot held a 1-0 lead but leading marksman Peter Clarkson brought his team level with a great individual effort.
Referee Mike Mahoney gave a foul against Clarkson (Pictured above) but Clarkson, never one to keep quiet, decided to argue the point. The ref told him to get up and get on with it. (Clarkson’s right eyebrow a timely reminder to us all not to fall asleep at parties.)
Clarkson continued to have his say and once again the ref waved him on his way.
He still didn’t get the message and with the man in black’s patience finally exhausted he was left with no option to show him the yellow.
When I moved on the score was 2-2 and it very much looked as though the game would go into extra time. It did but a strong performance by CTK saw them go on to win the match 5-2. A hat-trick from Peter Clarkson that took him back to the top of the BFSFA scoring charts.
In the fourth and final Division 2 Cup game on offer at Commonedge Road was Inkmasters (2A) against the Stanley Arms, Wesham (2B). The Inkmaster’s early season form was woeful as they could only manage one win from the first nine games. In recent months they’ve picked up and in the last four weeks they’ve picked up a maximum twelve points after impressive wins against Little Fat Jacks, West Coast Tackle, Claremont Cons and the Highlands. This morning they’d moved up into fifth place. If they carry on with this kind of form they could break into the top four but it won’t be easy.
Opponents Stanley Arms were eighth in the table and are, as is usual, having a mixed season. Although safe from relegation it looks as though a mid table finish is the best they could hope for. On arrival I asked the Stanley liner the score and he told me they were 3-0 down and playing rubbish. However, minutes after I got there they pulled one back in the picture two below.
From a cross the Inkmaster’s keeper was jostled and as a result he had a bit of a lash out at an opponent. In the resultant melee he had to be calmed by one of his own players in the picture below.
He didn’t stay calm for very long as Stanley’s Curwood (Blue 2) burst through and fired home to make it 3-2. Looking dead and buried Stanley were now right back into it and minutes later they had a great shout for a penalty but referee Zak adjudged the incident to have taken place just outside the box.
Stanley pushed everyone forward leaving huge gaps at the back in a last gasp effort to grab an equaliser but it wasn’t to be as in-form Inkmasters made it five wins on the bounce to put them through to Round 2.