|At the ground of Squires Gate FC watching Division 1 leaders Hydronics as they travelled to take on Northern Care FC.|
After last week's series of results Hydronics FC guaranteed themselves runners up spot and promotion to the top flight of Fylde Coast Sunday football. Prior to this morning's games they were fourteen points clear of nearest rivals Fleetwood Cricket Club FC at the top of Division 1. However, the Cricketers can still achieve 59 points so it's too early to take the collective foot off the pedal if they wish to lift the title.
59 points remained the target before today's games but I expect that to come down in the next few weeks and I'll be surprised if Hydronics don't have the title wrapped up by late March. After finishing 5th in the 2004/05 season in Division 2B they went on to win it last season as CLS Wyre FC when finishing four points clear of Christ the King FC. A memorable season was made complete when they also picked up the Division 2 Cup.
From the 18 league games they've played thus far this season only five points have been dropped. Three points were lost against Fleetwood Cricket Club FC who had a great 4-1 win against them and the other two were lost to Bloomfield Vets FC in a 2-2 draw. They're still going well in the Division 1 Cup after beating Wyre Villa in Round 1 but in the Gledhill they fell in Round 2 to Premier Division Cahoots FC. On Wednesday evening they lost in the last minute of the last ever Compere Cup final against Arcadian but John Egan's side showed in that match they look more than capable of doing well in the Premier Division next season.
This morning they were away at leaders Northern Care FC. The sides were meeting for the first time this season. Very probably it was possibly for the first time ever. In 2004/05 playing as the Mortgage Shop FC the team finished six points adrift at the bottom of the Premier Division and were duly relegated.
Another disappointing campaign followed last season when only three points saved them from a second successive relegation. They managed to escape by finishing in twelfth just above the Central Club and the Squirrel. This season has seen a marked improvement. With six games left they've already exceeded last season's point's tally by four points. They're currently in eighth but in all honesty, and even with a decent finish, perhaps seventh spot is the best they can hope for.
Dave Borrers' men have racked up five wins from the first eighteen games but it's the six draws that have left them in mid table. A 4-0 win over Bloomfield Vets and a draw against Fleetwood CC have been the highlights of this season along with other good wins against the Dunes and the Philharmonic. In both domestic cups their interest ended at the first hurdle. In the Gledhill they went out 2-1 against the Golden Eagle and the Division 1 Cup they were comfortably disposed of 4-0 by Brannigans.
They enjoyed a decent run in the Lancashire Sunday Trophy with two away ties in Wigan. They firstly beat Golborne Albion 5-2 before going out to Wigan Academicals 3-2. Northern Care FC have amazingly had four league draws on the bounce but are still to win in 2007 after having last picked up three points on November 26th against the Vets.
Top class conditions for football this morning. The Squires Gate pitch wasn't played on yesterday and despite the rain of late last week was in good condition. Flat calm and mild for this morning's match against the leaders.
Referee Martin Rogers was in charge of today's proceedings and at 11am we were punctually underway with Northern Care in their famous blue strip attacking the School Road end.
Northern Care FC 2006/07
Hydronics FC 2006/07
Hydronics FC keeper Craig Littlewood.
Is that legal ?
Northern Care had a good start to the game and this increased their confidence as they enjoyed good spells of possession in the opposition half and a couple of chances. It was of little surprise when they took the lead on fourteen minutes. Mark Williams floated over the free kick and Michael 'Elvis' Donohoe spoilt his quiff by heading into the far corner. 1-0. Live video of the goal can be seen by clicking here.
Very soon afterwards the usually reliabe Jamie Heathcote had a great chance to make it 2-0 but rushed his opportunity when clean through against the keeper.
The Northern Care FC bench.
Chris Matthews shows the large Northern Care Scottish contingent how to do the Highland fling.
Matthews was certainly in no mood for dancing on 26 minutes as Northern Care increased their lead. This time it was a corner for Mark Williams that was headed on before Phil Charlton pounced on the loose ball to fire it past Littlewood. 2-0. You can see live video of the second goal by clicking here.
Referee Mr Rogers. He's still struggling with that 'Vulcan salute'.
Jamie Wright (Left) gives Northern keeper Rick Cartmell something to think about.
On 33 minutes we had drama as referee awarded Hydronics a very controversial penalty. Hydronics had swept up the field leaving Northern very short defensively. Jamie Wright was left clear with a shot at goal from 12 yards and should have scored but the defender flew across in front of him and blocked it with his chest. Mr Rogers saw it differently and provoked a passionate response from the Northern players and bench.
Whilst the Northern players confront the official Jamie Wright keeps his composure before scoring from the spot. 2-1.
Half time score : Northern Care FC 2 – 1 Hydronics FC
John Egan (Centre) reads his team the riot act.
The Northern forward keeps his hands warm whilst we await the return of referee Rogers for the start of the second half.
The second half started as the first ended with lots of attacking play and incident from both sides. On 54 minutes Hydronics equalised with the best goal of the game. A throw in from the right fell to Jamie Wright. The big forward took the ball on a couple of paces and bent an unstoppable right footed shot past the outstretched dive of Cartmell. 2 – 2.
Wright's effort ends up in the back of the net.
Mr Rogers asks the Northern officials to calm things down.
The Northern Care fan stood behind the goal told me he'd never seen his team play so well and with so much commitment. “Usually, they're just a team of individuals but they're playing like a team today was one of his comments'. On 67 minutes Northern Care took the lead once again. Yet another set piece and more poor defending from the Division 1 leaders. Striking similarities to the second as Phil Charton found himself in the right place once again to force it over the line. 3-2. You can see live video of the goal by clicking here.
Natty headgear being sported by the Hydronics' followers.
Well held by keeper Cartmell
On seventy-seven minutes and we were level again. Both sets of defenders will be having nightmares re set-pieces this evening. This time it was the Northern defence and goalkeeper who failed to react as Chris Matthews towered above them all to power home Ben Hutley's corner. The keeper should have saved it. See the goal on live video by clicking here.
Northern Care FC keeper Rick Cartmell.
On 84 minutes Hydronics took the lead for the first time in the match. Another good move upfield led Hydronics into the Northern box. The ball broke for Ben Hutley and in the picture below he demonstrated great technique to thrash the ball home. 3-4.
Ben Hutley scores the winner. (Far left)
Emotions boil over on the Northern Care bench/creche.
Red card and an early bath for Referee's favourite Mr. Best
Northern Care FC had a great chance to equalise in the dying seconds when the forward was left with a clear shot on goal. If he'd hit it in either corner it was in but he fired it straight at the keeper. Moments later and it was all over.
Northern Care players have a little post match inquest with the referee after the whistle goes.
Final score : Northern Care FC 3 – 4 Hydronics FC
Northern Care FC can count themselves very unlucky this morning. They created countless chances and more than matched the Division 1 leaders in all areas of the pitch. They scored three goals and had a number of other golden opportunities to score a few more. The penalty decision against them was very harsh and came at just the wrong time. Plenty of positives to take from this morning's game and similar hardworking team performances will undoubtedly bring more positive results for the remainder of the season.
As for Hydronics it was a below par performance despite the recent injuries. They were woeful at defending set-pieces and this will have to improve in time for next season. Maybe a return to centre half is in order for Chris Matthews. Credit where it's due they did show some good fighting spirit and stuck together as a unit. After this morning's results three wins from the last five will secure the title.
Referee Mr Rogers will no doubt be experiencing one of those 'why on earth do I bother?' afternoons. It's a good job for us all that BFSFA ref's have broad shoulders.