|It was an important day in the Premier Division this morning and nowhere more so than at Cottam Hall where the top two, both unbeaten, met in the league for the first time this season. Could leaders Poulton FC end their Quilligans 'Hoodoo' whilst extending their lead at the top ?|
Since being promoted in runners up position behind St Annes Ex Service FC in the 2003/04 season Poulton FC have equipped themselves very well in the top flight. After finishing in fifth in 2004/05 they went one better last season to finish in fourth. Currently, along with a couple of others they have the potential to break the Quilligans/Highbury stranglehold on Fylde Sunday football.
However, the facts don't lie. Since being promoted they've come up against Quilligans FC six times and lost on each occasion. There's been enough written about the two recent Gledhill Finals which Poulton lost 2-0 and 1-0 respectively but in the league games Poulton have also been on the losing side including two entertaining 4-3 thrillers. Last season a classy Broadbent finish in the dying moments of extra time broke Poulton hearts.
League titles are not won at this stage of the season, they're won at every stage of the season and this particular Premier Division Sunday will no doubt prove to be of great importance come next May. Last season's treble winners Quilligans FC were in second place this morning five points behind Poulton with a game in hand so a win, although not vital, was important to manager Mark Spedding. Last season the keeping of clean sheets was the recipe for ultimate success but early season they've been conceding. (Seven league goals in five – Shocking).
Poulton player Carl Spedding has been joined by younger brother Jordan this season to add even extra interest to the tie.
The early morning mist that hung over the Fylde Coast gave the first hint of the onset of Autumn. It was very slow to clear but by kick off it had finally dissipated to leave it dry but overcast and humid. Flat calm conditions once again.
For the second time this season Mr Hornsby was the man in the middle for the featured game. The game was punctually underway on the compact pitch with Quilligans kicking off.
Quilligans' striker Lee Broadbent gets his first warning for dissent.
Bracewell and Apaloo tussle for the ball.
Steve Palmer catches one around the ear.
Both teams started confidently with some good football on the floor. Carl Eastwood had the first half chance on three minutes but his shot went harmlessly wide.
Two minutes later and Devereaux stretched well to get on the end of a long cross and was unlucky to see his chance go narrowly wide.
On fifteen minutes Quilligans made the breakthrough. Great play from Devereaux once again as he picked up the ball deep in his own half on the right flank. He played a great pass up to the forwards. The Poulton centre halves didn't deal with it and the ball fell kindly for Broadbent. His power and strength got him the wrong side of the defender allowing him to shield the ball. He took it on a couple of paces before striking it left footed across Josh Wood in the Poulton goal. A typical Broadbent finish. 0-1.
Quilligans' liner Crofty misses nothing as his 'eagle eye' watches the line.
Poulton keeper Josh Wood.
Ryan Roberts (Blue)
Mr Hornsby – A calm and collected official.
On 26 minutes Poulton had a great chance to equalise. Fegan was involved in a good move down the right. His pass was collected by Apaloo who played a neat 1-2 with Eastwood. Appy beat his man and fired a shot under Forsyth which bounced back off the post. The rebound just fizzed wide. A let off for Quills.
“That was close”
Nick Thompson (Left) and Robbie Boal.
Half time score : Poulton FC 0 – 1 Quilligans FC
Andy 'Foz' Forsyth back in goals for Quills this morning.
On 55 minutes Sugden went close on the break for Quilligans and four minutes later a Poulton header from a Morris corner just flew past the post.
Wayne Gardiner (Left)
On 67 minutes Quilligans were awarded a free kick. The cross found the head of Thompson who directed it towards Broadbent. McKenzie, on for the impressive Devereaux just fired over.
Quilligans were finding the the corners delivered by Morris difficult to deal with and once again Poulton were unlucky not to equalise as Tom Porter's header from Morris' corner had to be hacked off the line. Click here to see Tom's unlucky effort plus Danny's subsequent booking for a bad tackle from behind.
The Ref finally loses patience with Broadbent – Yellow card.
Phil Thompson – awesome centre half performance.
Another booking, manager Spedding not in agreement.
………………….and neither is Broadbent.
Ryan Roberts was beginning to have a lot more influence for Quilligans and twice in eight minutes he troubled the keeper with long range efforts that just went wide. On 80 minutes Poulton went close after Fulford pounced on an Apaloo flick but his shot went high over the bar.
Aaron Matthews (Left)
On 85 minutes the equaliser finally came for Poulton. A cross from the left wasn't dealt with and at the far post unmarked substitute Jordan Spedding bent a right footed curler past the outstretched left arm of Forsyth into the far corner. A finish of high quality. 1 – 1.
Spedding Junior is mobbed.
After the goal there was still five minutes left but Quilligans were still pushing forward. Firstly, Roberts played in Sugden but he chose the wrong foot and his poor shot went wide.
With about a minute left plus additional time Poulton conceded a free kick on the left edge of the box. Sugden took it quickly to Thompson and he rifled it into the back of the net but the kick was taken to quickly for Mr Hornsby.
Sugden argued the point and was booked. When the kick was finally taken Sugden this time ran over the ball and Palmer's low drive was deflected past Wood who had no chance in the Poulton goal. Click HERE to see the late winning free kick. 1 – 2. Like it or not the Quilligans celebration showed just what an important goal it was to them.
A deflated Porter takes a free-kick.
After a few minutes additional time Mr Hornsby brought the game to a close.
Final score : Poulton FC 1 – 2 Quilligans FC
This was a very entertaining game and with so many Saturday players taking part it was no surprise that the football was of a high standard throughout. In the main it was played hard but fair with very few nasty challenges.
Poulton more than matched their opponents today and enjoyed a greater share of the possession than they have in recent games against Quilligans as well as chances. Long balls up front proved fruitless as Thompson, one of the best centre halves on the Coast won almost every header. Saying that, Poulton were very dangerous from long throws and corners which troubled the Quilligans defence.
After two recent 90th minute winners/equalisers it was Poulton's turn to be on the wrong end of one this morning. It would have been easy for Quilligans to settle for a point but they went looking for the winner and it came albeit with the help of a deflection in the dying stages of the game.
An important three points for Quilligans as they look to keep in touch with the top of the table. Both teams played well and there's a long way to go until the end of the season with many twists and turns still to come.
I thought the referee was excellent today and definitely a man for the big fixture. Always in control and the cards dished out were mostly for dissent after players ignored numerous warnings to keep it quiet.