|At Commonedge Road, Blackpool watching the Gledhill Cup Round 1 replay between the Shovels FC (2B) and Elswick FC (2A).|
To be honest, whilst I was away, I was hoping for a Round 1 replay as I like to see at least one game from every round. Not only for personal interest but so I can get pictures for the 40th Gledhill Final programme.
In Round 1 on August 20th there was only one drawn game which saw Elswick and the Shovels draw 2 – 2.
Today's replay saw the Shovels take Elswick back to Commonedge Road. The Shovels were sixth in 2B this morning after winning two and losing one of their first three matches. Good victories over the Central Club and Partner Marketing were spoiled in midweek by an 8-2 thrashing by Brannigans Reserves. The Shovels interest in this famous competition ended last season in Round 2 when they were beaten 8-3 away at Premier Division Highbury. After gaining promotion in the 2004/05 season they went on to finish in a creditable fourth place in 2B in 2005/06.
Visitors Elswick have only played one league game so far and that resulted in a 4-2 defeat to one of the 2A title favourites Blackpool Rangers. Last season they reached Round 3 before being beaten by Talbot Sports & Social Club following a replay. After finishing third and gaining promotion from 3A last season a little more water has to flow under the bridge before we can gauge how they'll do in the higher Division.
Today's referee was big Andy Byrne and under generally clear skies the Shovels kicked off in the yellow strip kicking towards the sea out on Pitch 3 against the strong breeze. The pitches a lot greener than the last time I saw them.
Elswick's veteran centre half pairing of Ian Joynes (Right) and Paul McCandless.
Ashford clatters the keeper. “Sorry mate”
Quickly back on his feet, Elswick custodian Darren Salmon.
The game came alive on eighteen minutes with a goal apiece for either side which were almost identical in nature. Firstly, Elswick were handed a free kick on the right wing, Sean Louth delivered the ball to the far post for Matt Smith to finish neatly past Micky Hall. Two minutes later and it was Elswick's turn to concede a free kick in a similar position. Scott Christy hit the ball firmly to the far post and the loose ball was pounced on by player manager Neil Ashford to turn and sweep the ball past the leaping Salmon. 1-1.
Shovels defend the Louth free kick.
“Fair enough ref” as Ashford sees yellow for dissent to the linesman.
But a minute later he's far happier celebrating his well taken equaliser.
“Keeper's ball !” as Shoveller Micky Hall takes it well.
On 28 minutes Elswick took the lead A long cross-field pass by Louth found two of his colleagues completely unmarked at the far post. Dave's initial shot was well saved by Hall but Chris McLoud tapped in the rebound still unmolested by Shovel's defenders. 1-2. Louth should have scored just afterwards. He beat the offside trap but put it wide.
Just before half time Elswick increased the lead following some terrible Shovels defending. Firstly, Tony Holden miss-kicked a through ball and in his attempts to cover the error Charlie tripped Sean Louth. Left footed Sam Bannister bent a clever low drive around the wall and into the bottom corner. In the picture below you can see the ball (far left) on its way with Bannister (17) about to celebrate.
Shovel's stopper Micky Hall told me at the interval that he got bogged down in the sandpit otherwise known as the six yard box.
Half time score : Shovels FC 1 – 3 Elswick FC.
Nine year old Jack Gawthorpe was out watching 'Uncle' Dave France (Stripes left) play for Elswick but took time to proudly show off his recently collected football medal.
Elswick player manager Ian Joynes.
On 52 minutes Brum had a great chance to pull one back. He ghosted past the Elswick offside trap but just a final outstretched grab from the keeper denied him.
“Come on !”
Another sandpit this time in the middle of the park. I hate to say it but the Commonedge pitches are the worst I've ever seen them.
Great Elswick defending.
There was little else to report in the second half as resolute Elswick defending both aerially and on the ground reduced the Shovels to long range efforts. Elswick were no threat up front but defensively were excellent in the second half.
Final score : Shovels FC 1 – 3 Elswick FC
So it will be Elswick FC who'll travel to Boundary Park next week to face Division 1 side the Philharmonic at Boundary Park in which will undoubtedly be a very tough game for them. The difference between the sides in this game was the way Elswick defended the wind and to be honest the Shovels didn't create one decent chance in the second half.
Good luck to Elswick FC in Round 2.
We usually focus on the goal scorers but today it was the Elswick back four (Pictured above) who won the match for their team.