|Boundary Park was this morning's destinaton to watch the four Cup semi finals being played at the venue. Places in the Premier Division Cup final and the Division 1 Cup final were at stake and all four ties looked to be interesting and unpredictable.|
Recently, the four semi-finals of the Division 2 & 3 competitions were all played on the same day and at the same time on Commonedge Road which proved to be a good decision by the BFSFA as it added to the atmosphere, boosted the crowds and allowed me to watch all four matches.
It was therefore good news to see all four of the Prem and Division 1 Cup semi fnals listed for Boundary Park this morning. Great weather once again for players and spectators alike and unlike Commonedge the Boundary Park pitches still had a lot of grass on them. After the very wet winter it's now ironic that after three or four dry weeks many pitches across the Fylde are in dire need of a good soaking. We're praying for rain!
Four good looking fixtures on offer for the neutral this morning. Just over a week or so ago Quilligans FC were still involved in five competitions but defeat in the final of the Lancashire Sunday Trophy and the semi final of the Champion of Champions Cup had left them fighting for the three domestic competitions that they won last season. They're certainly in for a busy month and it remains to be seen whether their players are up to the challenge after such a testing season of fixtures. The Prem, like Divisions 2B and 3B, are still far from settled. Arcadian may have something to say about it but the four Prem teams on show today will probably end up occupying the top four places in the final league table.
Currently, Quilligans are four points behind leaders Poulton with a game in hand. Besides Poulton they've still to play Cahoots, Arcadian and Red Rose all of whom took points from them in the reverse fixtures. It's still in Poulton's own hands but with Highbury to play twice along with Quilligans it makes for a couple of fascinating weeks. Earlier in the season Poulton fell to a last minute free kick in the first league fixture to Quilligans. This morning's Cup tie was highly important in the 2006/07 Premier Division run in with each team fancying themselves for the double.
The other semi final was a local derby between Highbury and Red Rose Catering. They're still to meet in the second fixture but in the first league encounter Red Rose won 3-2. Highbury have four tough games left but twelve points combined with Poulton not collecting another point could still see them finish as runners up so the motivation is surely there for the two Poulton fixtures. Opponents Red Rose continue to over-achieve on pre-season expectations and it's good to see the Gledhill finalists still in with a chance of both a Cup double and a top four Premier Division finish.
In the Division 1 competition it was of little surprise to see both Bloomfield Vets FC and the Dunes FC competing in the semi finals. Both had gone a long way in this season's Gledhill tournament. The Vets reached the semi before going down in extra time to Red Rose Catering and the Dunes progressed to the last eight before being knocked out by Quilligans who they gave a really tough game.
This morning the Vets were up against Highcross FC who were eighth in the table. It's been another disappointing season for Highcross, Division 1's perennial under-achievers and with three games left sixth spot is the best they can hope for. The Vets in fourth have two games left and still have an outside chance of finishing third. On the first day of the season the sides fought out a 2-2 draw but just over a week ago the Vets trounced Highcross 12-0 in the reverse fixture. I couldn't foresee a repeat of that scoreline in today's game. A Cup final for either side would be good end to the season.
The Dunes FC were up against Division 1 champions Hydronics who've only lost two games all season but the long campaign is beginning to take it's toll and the Thornton club had a number of injuries but I guess that's the case for almost all clubs at this late stage. The Dunes are currently in tenth spot but six points from the last two games could leave them in seventh. Hydronics had won the league fixtures 4-1 and 3-0 and therefore went into the game as strong favourites.
All set then for some great Cup action. Perfect weather, decent pitches and three officials for every match. The only negative was the lack of changing facilities. “Your job mate for double time on a Sunday is to turn up at Boundary Park at 10am, turn a key in a lock, switch on the boiler and then hang about in the sunshine for a couple of hours”. He still couldn't grasp it. Still, at least it was dry.
First up were Poulton (Red & Black) v Quilligans with Poulton in search of their first ever win over the Alliance Champions.
Tom Porter – Another good season at Blackpool Wren Rovers.
Well held by the Poulton keeper.
Cool – Darren Spedding (Australia bound)
“Give us a break mate, it 'aint wrestling”
Quills' stopper Rick Whiteside.
'Add three equals No.4'
Still goalless at the interval.
Brian Harper (Left) and Terry Green out watching the semis.
Scott Sugden – Should have scored.
'It's in!' Shortly after the Sugden chance and Phil Ioannou hitting the post Adam Sharrock puts Poulton 1-0 up.
Quills fiercely contest a denied penalty claim.
Dave Connor – BFSFA Referees Secretary.
A crucial late clearance.
The final whistle goes and Poulton are through.
From early in the game it looked as though one goal would seal the tie and so it proved. A very close game with each side creating some good chances.
Final score : Poulton SFC 1 – 0 Quilligans FC.
On the adjoining pitch it was Highbury FC (White) taking on Red Rose Catering FC.
Highbury go close.
They key moment of the game. Highbury are 1-0 behind but look certain to equalise as the keeper is beaten to the ball well outside his area. The shot looks goalbound but the Catering number 7 scrambles back to make a last ditch clearance.
A good punch by Clowse.
Weeks on from the last semi final and he's still not released his grip on her. Can't blame him.
Highbury followers and Subs – Far less aesthetically pleasing.
Not long into the second half Red Rose increased the lead but Fleetwood didn't give up and pulled one back to make it interesting. In the end however it was Red Rose who went through to meet Poulton in the final with a 2-1 win.
Final score : Highbury FC 1 – 2 Red Rose Catering FC.
On to the Division 1 semi finals. At half time Bloomfield Vets were 2-0 up against Highcross but it didn't stop Andy Gouck handing out a half time rollicking.
Lee Miles (Right)
A strongly hit Highcross back pass, indecision by the keeper, anticipation by Mitchell, a simple tap in, 3-0 and game over.
'Can I give you these raffle tickets?' Treasurer Dennis Wilde always on the cadge.
A comfortable progression then for the Vets who went on to score a couple more against a Highcross team without Lee Catlow.
Final score : Bloomfield Vets FC 5 – 0 Highcross FC
Last but not least we had the Dunes (White) taking on Division 1 champions Hydronics. The Dunes had gone behind early on but fought back well. At the break they were leading 2-1.
Not long after the break and Romeo is beaten as the Dunes go 3-1 up.
Glum Hydronics stalwarts watch their team's worst display of the season.
Job done !
A memorable performance from the Dunes who recovered from the early setback to deny Hydronics an opportunity for a league and Cup double. Well done to them. We look forward to two great finals.
Final score : The Dunes FC 6 – 1 Hydronics FC.
Chip butties and free beer all round yells Dunes landlord Jimmy Drinkwater (Far left) in a weak moment.