|At the rain-soaked ground of Poulton Town FC checking in on the final match of the BFSFA 2006/07 season as Red Rose Catering FC took on Poulton SFC in the final of the Premier Division Cup.|
Just over two weeks ago both of these sides were involved in difficult semi-finals on adjacent pitches at Boundary Park. Red Rose Catering made it through to the final after beating Highbury 2-1 and Poulton progressed after overcoming Quilligans 1-0. In earlier rounds Red Rose had beaten Highfield Social 5-1 and Arcadian 3-1. Poulton required a replay to beat Bispham Juniors in Round 1 but saw off Cahoots in Round 2 with a 3-1 win.
Following the two semi finals both teams were in good heart. Poulton were still in with an excellent chance of a league and Cup double whilst Red Rose were also through to the 40th Gledhill Cup final. Both teams would go on to face great disappointment as Poulton's lead at the top was wiped away by Quilligans on the last Sunday of the season as they lost at Collins Park. The same side would break Red Rose hearts as a last gap equaliser took the Gledhill final into extra time which Quilligans eventually won on penalties.
Each of the sides deserved to take something for all their hard work this season and tonight's final provided that opportunity,
Despite the grey skies and heavy rain, conditions were good for football. The wind had dropped, it was mild and the Poulton Town pitch was perfect. Unfortunately, the camera was no match for the gloom so I apologise for the lack of decent pictures in this report.
Referee Max Cobb(Centre) flanked by Scott Rimmer (Left) and Brian Ward.
Back to harsh reality as the sunshine of Australia is replaced by the rain of Cottam Hall.
Poulton manager Alan Cocker.
Sharrocks scores from the spot.
Final score : Poulton SFC 3 – 0 Red Rose catering FC
This was a difficult game to sum up as there were many twists and turns. Nevertheless it was entertaining throughout with each side creating lots of goal scoring opportunities.
In the first twenty minutes Red Rose Catering produced the better football and created six or seven shooting opportunities from the edge of the box but the finishing wasn't good enough. Poulton were not exactly quiet themselves with Jordan Spedding and Danny Morris ably supported by Danny Rowe keeping the Red Rose defenders busy.
On 25 minutes Poulton took the lead. Jordan Spedding was controversially adjudged to have been bundled over just inside the opposition half by referee Cobb. The free kick was lofted to the edge of the box where it was neatly played into the path of Danny Rowe. He didn't need a touch as he smashed a low right foot drive that bounced once on the wet surface before hitting the bottom corner of the net. Great technique, excellent goal.
The goal lifted Poulton and they began to probe further. On 35 minutes they were awarded a penalty. Loose defending allowed Morris through clear on goal. A diagonal ball had been played over the head of the defender who wasn't tight enough. Morris controlled it well but looking set to shoot but it wouldn't sit down quick enough.
He looked to change his mind and bring it down instead but he got caught up with the defender who was trying to regain ground. Linesman Brian Ward (Nearest to the incident) placed the flag against his chest and referee Cobb pointed towards the spot. A harsh decision but Sharrocks made no mistake from the spot sending Smith the wrong way. Just before the break Morris was clean through again in the same position. This time the ball did fall nicely for him but his low drive evaded the far post.
2-0 down at the break Red Rose started the second half as they did he first and for long periods they enjoyed the greater share of possession and produced the greater number of opportunities. The neutrals were hoping for Red Rose to pull a goal back to make for an interesting last twenty minutes but it never came. Poulton were creating the better clear cut chances. Jordan Spedding had the ball in the back of the net twice and managed to miss an open goal from three yards out but the offside flag was up on all three occassions. The mercurial Danny Rowe danced past three defenders and left them trailing before shooting weekly into the arms of Smith.
On 83 minutes Poulton ended all hopes of a Red Rose comeback. A long throughball set up a challenge between Red Rose keeper Smith and Poulton's substitute striker Chris Appaloo. My view was that the keeper made it to the ball first but spilled it. Appaloo's movement could not stop him clashing with the keeper who came off much the worse. Appaloo's was quickly back on his feet, recovered the loose ball and with the keeper still prone tapped it into the empty net.
The ball looked out but the liner kept his flag down. Only Mr Appaloo will ever know if the ball was in or out. Understandably, the Red Rose players and officials were livid as they thought a) It was a foul, b) the ball was out of play, c) Even if it wasn't with the keeper down the ball should have been knocked out of play. It's all history now as the controversial goal stood.
With Nick Horne taking over on goals Red Rose still found time to regroup and push forward but they couldn't score.
Red Rose may have shaded possession and created a few more chances but Poulton were quality and created by far the better chances and most importantly they put the ball in the net. Red Rose were on the wrong end of a number of refereeing/linesman decisions but at the end of the day Poulton deserved to win the game. On another night this game could have ended up 7-5 to Poulton – as I said, it was a strange game.
Whoever Danny Rowe goes on to play for in the future the eighteen year old has a lot to thank Blackpool Wren Rovers for. Although a good player on arrival he's improved dramatically this season at Wrens adding upper body strength and a hugely improved work rate to his long list of skills and assets. I've seen him put a few awesome performances in this season and this was another good one as he took the fyldesport Man of the match award. He has the capability to become one of the best amateur offensive midfielders ever seen on the coast if he carries on applying himself in the right manner.
It's been a memorable season for both Poulton and Red Rose who've suffered the high's and lows of Sunday Football. They'll each be back next season hopefully even stronger in a bid to take revenge on Quilligans.
Congratulations to Alan Cocker and Poulton SFC as they lifted the trophy after a 3-0 victory.