|A first visit to the new Alliance venue of Lytham St Annes High School to watch the Division 3A fixture between Ansdell FC and Blackpool Catholic Club FC.|
During their debut season in the Alliance, Ansdell, playing as the famous FC Moghul, went all season without a win, conceded 138 goals and unsurprisingly finished bottom of Division 3B. They're a good example for any side that's currently struggling as eventually things will undoubtedly get better.
Last season, they changed their name to Ansdell FC and their home pitch to Lytham St Annes High School. Both changes brought them better fortune as they experienced a dramatic upturn in form. Nine wins and two draws were good enough for seventh place and after the usual mid summer Divisional re-organisation the 'Scholars' found themselves promoted up to Division 3A.
After tipping them for an outside bet this season they've disappointed. With a number of decent pre-season signings I expected them to be in a better position than the ninth spot they were in this morning.
Manager Kev Quirke has been in charge for almost all of the roller coaster ride since joining the BFSFA and he knows that the next few months could either see them climb the table and finish in a respectable position or alternatively end up in something of a relegation dogfight. Thus far they've won four and drawn three of the fourteen league games played. After a first round bye they fell in Round 2 of this season's Gledhill Cup following a 4-1 defeat by Division 1 side St Annes Ex Service.
One of those three league draws came against this morning's opponents Blackpool Catholic Club. Bonfire night at Boundary Park saw the sides fight out an entertaining 3-3 draw. Last season was one to forget for the Catholics as they ended up bottom of the Division. Four wins and two draws was all that they could muster.This season has seen a different story for Owen Burns' men as the side is enjoying one of its best camapaigns in recent years.
This morning they were fifth in the table and a strong finish to the season may see them ending up in the top four. In recent weeks they've been in unlucky in two draws against the top sides. First they drew with Clifton Skye 3-3 and just last week they tied 4-4 against Divisonal title favourites Wrea Green.
All set then for an interesting fixture. Terrible conditions once again with the windchill factor kicking in from the North.
No referee this morning so Brian 'Father' McGuinness stepped in to officiate. He got proceedings under way about five minutes late with the Catholics in the Papal green kicking towards the world famous Royal Lytham golf links.
Blackpool Catholic Club FC
Ansdell kick off
The game, like the weather, started brightly with the Catholics playing the better football. The large Celtic contingent clearly spurred on by Ansdell's copy Glasgow Rangers kit. On four minutes Ansdell keeper Ant Jones was called upon to make a decent save from a Dave Ireland effort.
Ansdell keeper Anthony Jones. That's one sexy top and with Valentine's day on the horizon why not buy one for the Missus ?
On the quarter hour referee McGuinness had no hesitation in pointing to the spot when an Ansdell defender clumsily hacked down striker Steve Wright in the box. No complaints from Ansdell. Veteran Don Hasson stepped up but clearly put off by the imposing presence of keeper Jones he skied it over the bar with a nine iron on to the eleventh fairway at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
The Catholics were quickly made to pay as Ansdell went straight up the other end and took the lead. An excellent Bryce cross was well met by Matty Parr who's well directed header found the top corner. 1-0.
The Catholic's go close once more.
The new College faculty at Ansdell,(The last one burned down), provides the backdrop.
On 35 minutes the Catholics deservedly equalised. A harsh free kick was awarded 35 yards out. Steve Conroy whipped the ball behind the defenders with pace and unmarked at the far post was Steve Wright to guide it home. You can see this goal on live video by clicking here. 1-1.
Two men down.
Catholic's keeper Stewart Haslam.
On 37 minutes Matt Parr hit the post for Ansdell – Unlucky. Two minutes later the Catholics took the lead. The 'son' part of the father and son partnership in the shape of Mike Hasson fed a neat through ball down the middle. Matt Robinson was on-side, waited for Jones to commit himself and steered it into the back of the net. 1-2
Blackpool Catholic Club FC manager Owen Burns.
Half time score : Ansdell FC 1 – 2 Blackpool Catholic Club FC
Ansdell manager Kev Quirke rallies his troops at the interval.
The second half was underway and the weather took a turn for the worse. The sun went in and the wind got stronger making it very unpleasant for the hardy spectators. The cold weather began to affect the camera. The game itself went a bit flat and a goal for either side looked unlikely. Both teams were giving away possession in the middle of the park.
Stand in referee Brian McGuinness.
Ansdell were trying their utmost to get back into the game and they created a few goal mouth scrambles during which the strikers should have converted a couple of good chances.
On 75 minutes the Catholics created the killer goal. Don Hasson's old legs did very well to keep the ball in play (Good decision liner). This allowed skipper Chris Lomax to burst into the box. His cross was unfortunately diverted into his own net by Ansdell defender Mark Ludlam. 1-3.
It's disaster for Ansdell.
Only one team in it now as Ant Jones makes a great save.
A happy manager Burns helps carry off the injured Wright.
With the game nearing its conclusion the Catholics wrapped things up in the 85th minute. The impressive Dave Ireland picked up the ball out wide on the left. He cut across the park evading a couple of weak Ansdell challenges before rifling in a low drive past Jones into the bottom corner. 1-4.
There was still time for an Ansdell consolation as Danny Garth swept home a rebound to make it 2-4 and that's how it finished.
In summary this was a decent Division 3A game. Both sides played some good football on the deck at times despite the swirling wind. There was hardly a bad tackle in the match which was unsurprising considering each team's current high position in the Fair Play table.Ansdell are much improved since last I watched them and they have some good players in each Department. I expected more determination from them during the long period of time the score was at 2-1 but it wasn't to be.
Blackpool Catholic Club are playing well. Current form is good so don't rule them out for a top four place. Despite it being a long trip and late January they had a big squad out today. A disciplined outfit they'll give anybody a game in this interesting Division.
Well done to the stand in referee Mr McGuinness who officiated the game well.
Final score : Ansdell FC 2 – 4 Blackpool Catholic Club FC
My Man of the Match, the Catholic's hard working Dave Ireland.