|Another visit to Cottam Hall this week to watch the big game in Division 2B between leaders Progress Property Management FC and Brannigans Reserves FC who were a point behind in second but with a game in hand.|
On the opening day of the season these two sides met at the Co-op club on Preston New Road, an entertaining 3-3 draw being the outcome. Both teams have since gone on to enjoy great starts to the 2006/07 campaign.
Their first season in the Alliance saw Progress finish as 3B Champions just ahead of Blackpool Rangers. They were expecting the higher Division to be tougher and so it has proved but after seven games they're one point clear at the top after four wins and two draws. Their only defeat came in a 3-2 away defeat to the Central Club FC back on August 20th.
When the September fixtures were published there must have been some apprehension in the Progress 'camp'. Not only were they to face old 3B rivals Mythop Leisure in Round 2 of the Gledhill Cup but the three league fixtures were against teams then sitting in the top five. After beating Mythop in the Gledhill to set up a dream tie and local derby against Premier Division Poulton FC they've gone on to beat Fleetwood Kings and Fylde Coast Gates. The scoreline in all three games was 2-1 which indicates they're grinding out big results against quality opposition.
They're an ambitious club so this knuckling down and winning mentality will have to be shown in every game if they're to ever reach the top Division. Tanned, pretty, well dressed, educated, articulate and socially comfortable it's little wonder they're far from being the most popular team in Fylde Coast Sunday football. It's fair to say that they thrive on this image and you get the impression that finishing bottom of the Division 3B Fair Play league table last season is something they're not overly concerned about.
Today's visitors to Cottam Hall were Brannigans Reserves FC. After being promoted from 3B in 2004/05 they went on to finish in a very creditable sixth position last season in Division 2B. They improved gradually all season and finished very strongly taking twelve points from the last eighteen available.This season they've carried on where they left off. After that opening 3-3 draw against today's opponents they've won four of their subsequent league games and lost only once. That defeat came against Foulds Metals on August 13th when they lost 5-1.
They've reached Round 3 of the Gledhill where they'll face first Division side Highcross FC who will be strong opponents. In the opening round Brannigans Reserves disposed of the Gynn Hotel and in round 2 they pulled off a major shock when humbling the much fancied Division 1 side the New Castle 5-0.
In the last five games Brannigans have rattled in thirty-nine goals at an average of almost eight a game. Manager Guy Gillespie has blended together a mixture of youth and experience and this balance seems to be paying dividends. They were second in the table this morning a point behind Progress but with a game in hand.Both teams have some up and coming young players who are currently finding their feet in Saturday Football in the West Lancs league. Note for Fylde Coast Saturday Mangers – These talented youngsters are well worth keeping an eye on.
So, after the big build up would the game itself live up to the billing ? Time for the cyber warriors to temporarily end their tapping as the rivalry moved to the football field. A win for either side would leave them top of the table this evening along with a Division 2B Manager of the Month Award sitting proudly on the mantlepiece.
Today's referee was Billy Thistlethwaith who unlike say 'Ashley Stephens' has a proper Lancashire name. Great weather and pitch conditions once again at Cottam Hall right up until kick off time when the skies darkened and the rain started to pour. At 11am we were underway with Progress kicking off.
Progress Property Management FC 2006/07
Brannigans Reserves FC 2006/07
16yr old Martin Wannell
Ben Fenton (right) gets a lecture from the ref
Brannigans started very slowly and Progress took advantage. After an early shot that brought about a good block from Cordell Progress took the lead on three minutes following a Ben Shaw drive from the edge of the box that found the bottom corner. 1-0.
Brannigans skipper and leading goalscorer Matthew Wannell.
On fifteen minutes the league leaders made it 2-0. A controversial throw on the left was awarded to Progress. The compact pitch makes it easy for long bombs to be delivered into the danger area. The throw was woefully defended by Brannigans as an unmarked Barney Woolcock ghosted in to nod the ball over the head of keeper Cordell. 2-0. (Click here to see the live video).
WTF's going on ? Brannigan's manager Guy Gillespie is far from happy.
He was cheered up two minutes later by Wes Renshaw who pounced on a loose ball on the left edge of the box and hit a great strike past Sam Walker into the far corner. Brannigans off the mark at last. 2-1.
The Chinese kitmakers had to work overtime to make Big Gordy's shorts
As the rain got heavier the camera started to struggle but the goals kept coming. On twenty minutes Phil Brown who'd gone close moments earlier got on the end of another poorly defended throw from Pett and placed it past Cordell. 3-1.
Going forward Brannigans looked very dangerous with Wannell and Renshaw giving the Progress defenders much concern. On 33 minutes they pulled another goal back. A cross into the box eventually fell kindly for Dave Seagar who took a touch before rifling it into the top corner from six yards out. 3-2.
Five minutes later and it was 4-2. There's no way of avoiding it, dreadful keeping by Cordell but he wasn't helped by his defenders who once again failed to deal properly with another set-piece. Click here to see live video of Gary Pett's first goal.
Half time score : Progress Property Management FC 4 – 2 Brannigans Reserves FC.
It's a deserved half time rollicking for Brannigans Reserves FC
Not many WAGS out in the rain today but I sneaked up and flashed this one in the bushes. I asked her for some details but she just said, “Whoever you are please go away as you're scaring me”. I think she and dog Poppy were out watching Progress player Gary Pett. What loyalty.
The rain comes down even harder.
“Treat your best players the same as the worst” was one of my pre-season tips. On the hour Brannigan's manager Gillespie did exactly that. Talented Ben Fenton was not at the races today (Late night) and was duly hauled off by the gaffer on the hour mark.
Whilst Fenton threw his shirt in the mud and stormed off to get changed substitute Derek Clark made an immediate impression with a first class free-kick into the top corner. (Click here to see the live video). Great goal. 4-3.
Steve 'Scuba' Cordell. The Brannigan's keeper not having the best of games this morning.
On 65 minutes Progress all but killed off the game with a fifth. They created two corners in succession and from the second it was Gary Pett's turn to take advantage of some hesitant defending to place the ball past Scuba. 5-3.
Barney Woolcock, Wes Renshaw and Dave 'Ears' Morris
Referee Mr Thistlethwaith. At only eighteen the teams didn't make it easy for him as one turned up in green and the other in black. That left him having to don a T Shirt. Where's Mr Mayer's famous red jersey when you need it ?
On 77 minutes the Brannigans manager and I were having a chat on the eighteen yard line about where it was all going wrong. Unfortunately, both of us had forgotten he was also the club liner.
When Progress heartthrob Woolcock sprung clear of the offside trap on the half way line Gillespie was in no position to raise the flag. Woolcock went on to cooly finish.
Woolcock slots it past the advancing keeper to make it 6-3.
For the last ten minutes there were no more goals but at last the rain stopped enabling me to get some better pictures.
Brannigans sub and goalscorer Derek Clark
The final whistle goes.
Final score : Progress Property Management FC 6 – 3 Brannigans Reserves FC
A frustrating morning for Brannigans Reserves FC, especially for the forwards. Their front line were excellent today and it's certain that the likes of Wannell, Renshaw and Seagar will score a shed full of goals this season. Scoring three should be enough to win any game but the Brannigans defence were poor today. They failed to cope with set pieces such as corners and throw-ins on this small pitch and this combined with an extremely nervy keeper led to a whole host of errors at the back. They never gave up and had a good shout for a penalty at 5-3.
Still, there's a long way to go and if Brannigans can sort out their defensive frailties then promotion is a distinct possibility.
Well done to Progress Property. They've had a September to remember and Chris Pett deservedly wins the 2B Manager of the Month award. The messing about has stopped and this more serious edge has been chiefly responsible for their recent good form.
Woolcock and Aspin were excellent up front but they were well supported by Shaw and Brown in midfield. A good team effort. There will be a lot more tough games to come and I expect them to give Poulton a game in the Gledhill.
Progress Property FC goalscorers.