|The first journey of the season to Cottam Hall, Poulton to watch the Premier Division fixture between Progress Property Management FC and Northern Care FC.|
Although we're already a month into the new Sunday football season Northern Care FC have only had ninety minutes of competitive football. It was an important ninety minutes nevertheless as manager Gary Collings' side travelled to play Highfield Social FC on the opening day of the season and came away with a well-earned three points following a 4-1 victory.
Northern Care FC changed their name during the close season from the Clarence FC. They also picked up quite a few very good players from last season's Arcadian FC who folded. First day opponents Highfield Social had undertaken a similar transformation with last season's Cahoots FC. It's a difficult job to integrate good players into well established squads. Victory in that opening game would have helped settle things down and speed up the integration whilst a bad defeat would have the opposite effect and so it proved.
Northern Care were due to play last week in the 2nd Round of this season's Gledhill Cup but opponents Real Kingsfield failed to raise a squad and therefore forfeited the game. Northern strolled into Round 3 without playing a game but once again they've drawn rivals Quilligans so unless they play to their full potential they'll be out very quickly. They also have a Lancashire Sunday Trophy game away against the mysterious 'Bay Horse FC' although at the time of writing I'm unsure of their geographical location.
Northern's opponents today were Premier Division new boys Progress Property Management FC. They're starting only their third season in the Alliance but they're already playing amongst the elite of Fylde Coast Sunday football. After winning consecutive titles in 3B (2005/06) and 2B (2006/07) they accepted the league's invitation to skip Division 1 and move up into the Prem.
Phil Brown's men have had a difficult start. Three home defeats in league and Cup on their own ground have left them close to the bottom of the table and out of the Gledhill Cup. Last week's defeat to Division 2B's Pulcinellas FC was particularly disappointing even after considering their opponent's emphatic good start to the season.
A solitary point away against the Golden Eagle is all they have to show so far for their early season efforts. Today would be another step on the steep learning curve against some of the Alliance's best players. Despite these early season setbacks morale in the camp still appears to be good and they seem to be enjoying the challenge of the top flight.
The glorious weather conditions of early morning had given way to cloud and a strengthening breeze. Still, good conditions both on and above ground this morning at Cottam Hall. Top referee Ian Rose was in charge of proceedings and a sharp blast of his whistle got the game punctually underway with Progress Property in the black strip kicking off towards the road.
Progress Property Management FC 2007/08.
Northern Care FC 2007/08
Luke Rimmington kicks off for Progress.
After only one minute of the game we had our first goal. Ben Aspin did well to put over a deep cross to the far post whilst under pressure and unmarked at the far post was Ben Shaw to fire a first time volley off the the near post past Cook. Great finish. 1-0.
Progress keeper Tim Kilpatrick.
Good to see referee Ian Rose back in action this morning.
On 8 minutes Northern equalised. Progress conceded a silly free-kick following a push in the back about 25 yards out in a central position. Dave Cram executed it perfectly as his left footed effort bent away from the flapping keeper into the top corner. 1-1.
The Progress wall made irrelevant by Cram's accuracy.
Encouragement from Terry Green.
One of the very few unpleasant incidents in the game.
On twenty minutes there was a key moment in the match. A Northern player was fouled close to the touchline on the edge of the box and referee Rose immediately awarded a free kick. Northern' Ben Waddington got up and kicked his opponent right under the nose of Rose. The Progress player squared up to him and the ref stepped in. Yellow card for the Progress player and a deserved straight red for Waddington.
'Off you go'
Due to extra time at Wrens yesterday I only caught the last twenty minutes of Mechs' 4-0 win over Eccleshall but Waddington had most of the ball and played well for the home side. His indiscipline this morning spoilt his weekend and robbed him of seventy minutes participation in a good game of football.
Down to ten men and Gaz Collings is forced into a rethink.
On 28 minutes Dave Cram (11) glances a header inches wide.
Northern keeper Jamie Cook who's also in good form for Blackpool Mechanics early season.
Progress were still knocking it about well and causing their opponents problems. On 33 minutes Northern allowed a free header that just went over. PPM were keeping Cook busy and were unlucky not to retake the lead.
On thirty-five minutes Cram was sent clean through against the keeper but his lob bounced back off a post before being cleared away.
Just before the interval Northern Care went ahead with a Micky Horsfall special. The ball was played across to Scott Waters on the edge of the opposition area and he was encouraged to shoot by his team mates. He was blocked off so he cleverly brought the ball back and showed good composure as he played a short pass to Horsfall. The Kirkham star sold a couple of dummies, sent the crowd and the defenders the wrong way, eluded a couple of challenges with quick feet before steering it left footed low past Kilpatrick. Great to watch. 1-2.
The defenders go dizzy as Horsfall (Out of picture) puts Northern ahead.
Half time score : Progress Property Management FC 1 – 2 Northern care FC
Northern get the second half underway.
After the dress rehearsal on 35 minutes Cram was sent clear again by a Horsfall pass. Once again the striker won the race to the ball but this time the resultant lob found the back of the net. 49 minutes gone and Northern 3-1 ahead.
Cram beats the keeper to Horfall's through ball.
The Progress defender can do nothing to stop the ball crossing the line.
During the goal celebrations Cram was clawed by one of his enthusiastic team-mates but the magic spray quickly had him back on his feet.
On 53 minutes it was game over as Northern scored a fourth. A good break down the right ended up with a looping pass from Horsfall to Waters. It was a tight angle but the forward showed patience and great skill as he smashed the dropping ball across the keeper and into the far corner. 1 – 4
Waters is congratulated by Wood.
“Are you ready then?” Collings gives Andy Hill the nod to come on.
On 68 minutes Northern further increased their lead with another great goal. It was mostly down to Andy Hill who'd replaced Waters up front. The ball was played to Hill down the right channel and he held it up well. Despite having to men on him he looked up and played a great pass through the legs of the defender for Wood. He took it on and played it across to Cram on the other side of the box. You have to admire Wood's optimism as he carried on his run into the box and requested a return pass from Cram. No chance Marvin! On a hat-trick Cram took it inside the defender and smashed it into the back of the net. 1-5.
Cram's third gives the keeper no hope.
Despite the advers scoreline there was no panic from PPM. Two minutes later Barney Woolcock pulled a goal back as he was left unmarked from a Mike Pearce corner. 2-5.
A minute later the homeside threatened again as a decent effort thundered against the post.
The aftermath of Woolcock's goal.
On 74 minutes Northern created another good break upfield and the keeper pulled off a good save from Hill. Three minutes later and the same player correctly had a goal ruled out by the offside flag.
On 76 minutes Hill's efforts were finally rewarded as he beat the keeper to a throughball and lifted it over the keeper. A last ditch effort by a PPM defender failed as referee Rose adjudged it to have crossed the line. 2-6.
Andy Hill on the scoresheet this morning.
PPM were still not finished. On 85 minutes Ben Shaw was allowed to run unchallenged through midfield. He fired of a ferocious 30 yard effort that swerved and dipped viviously in the air before flying past the bemused Cook. 3-6.
With time running out we had yet another goal. The ball broke loosely for Cram in the PPM box and he made no mistake as he lashed it past Kilpatrick for his fourth of the game.
Cram (Right) scores again although Hill (Clearly offside) claimed he got an all important touch.
Final score : Progress Property Management FC 3 – 7 Northern Care FC.
This match turned out to be a great game to watch. Ten goals and lots of incident. Many of the strikes were of the highest quality. Northern looked very good this morning despite playing seventy minutes with only ten men. The Arcadian players looked to have settled into the squad very quickly.
Cram was excellent and showed deadly finishing when adding his four goals to the one he scored for Mechs yesterday. The tough training regime is clearly paying off as he looked to be both sharp and in great shape, (But still moaning). A very good performance also from Marvin Wood. With Horsfall and Green in midfield and down to ten men he had a lot of work to do but for ninety minutes he was tenacious in the tackle, closing players down and motoring up and down the pitch. One to watch if he can time his tackles and curb his aggression. Andy Hill also played very well when he came on for Scott Waters.
Lots of top performances from Northern players today. They all played well but of I was to pick fault they lost too many headers at the back and all too often keeper Cook was left to save the day, especially in the first half. The better teams will punish similar lapses in concentration. However, overall they were very impressive and a top three place looks to be achievable.
As for PPM I thought they played fairly well even though they got beat 7-3. Throughout the 90 minutes they played good football on the deck with patient build up from the back. Most impressively there wasn't one argument or cross word amongst the lot of them. They were up against one of the best sides in the Alliance this morning which contained half a dozen in-form Blackpool Mechanics FC players.
Generally, they equipped themselves well and displayed a great attitude. They'll need to maintain this team spirit and togetherness during what may prove to be a long and challenging season ahead. The game was very well officiated by Ian Rose but there wasn't one bad tackle in the whole game.
Four goal Cram (Left) and the hard working Wood the pick of the bunch for Northern today.