|At Blackpool Road, St Annes watching the game of the day in Division 2B as early season leaders Saddle FC met second place Skye FC. Both were unbeaten in the league this morning after impressive starts.|
This morning's league table showed three games played and three straight wins for the Saddle FC which represents their best start for many a season. The three league wins against the Bloomfield Hotel, Brannigans and the Central Club have produced nine points in the league and notably they've found the net on sixteen occasions whilst only conceding three. A first round bye for Scott Elliott's men in this season's Gledhill set up a second round tie against Claremont Cons who they beat 5-1. In round 3 they now face an interesting looking match against in-form Waterloo Sports & Social Club FC of Division 3B.
Last season the club finished in tenth which was a slight improvement on 2005/06 when only the Brun Grove FC stood between them and bottom place. Defensively, they've not been too bad but have lacked punch upfront. Last season they averaged just over two per game whilst currently they're averaging over five hence their lofty early season positition. Could they keep it up?
Not if today's opponents Skye FC had anything to do with it. Thirteen wins and three draws was good enough for fifth place in Division 3A last season along with a resultant promotion to Division 2B. The team have got off to a great start in taking seven points from the first nine available. A narrow opening day victory against the Central Club was followed by an away win at St Annes Ex Service and a 4-4 draw last weekend against the improving Bloomfield Hotel.
Ominously enough, Skye's rugged centre half Rob Livesey was missing. He'd called manager Ali this morning to explain that he had sprained his neck whilst picking up his newborn baby.
In the first round of the Gledhill they received a tough draw away at Blackpool Catholic Club where they lost 6-4. Two points behind the Saddle at start of play a win for manager Alasdair Martin's team this morning would have put them top of the table. Windy but dry at St Annes this morning with rain forecast for early afternoon (They were correct). The pitch was in a shocking condition. Like Commonedge these pitches built on sand are rapidly turning to dust – we need that rain.
Today's referee was Waterloo Hotel FC chairman Chris Giles who kindly agreed to stand in at the last minute.
Skye FC 2007/08
Saddle FC 2007/08
Good agility from referee Giles as he catches my pound coin (I never saw it again). 'Heads it is !' The Saddle started with the advantage of the strong wind.
Skye keeper Stuart Aspden.
In the above picture the Skye keeper is dejected after being beaten with less than two minutes on the clock. A long throw wasn't dealt with by the Skye defenders and Saddle centre half Joel Chappell picked up the loose ball, took it on a couple of paces and smashed a deflected shot past Aspden. 0-1.
On six minutes things got worse for the Saddle. A Lee Sheard corner was headed over the bar by the Skye rearguard. On the re-take the Saddle got it right as Joel Chappell rose unchallenged to head firmly past Aspden. 0-2.
GOAL !!!! Chappell heads home his second.
22 year old Saddle FC manager Scott Elliott happy with his teams' good start.
Stand-in referee Mr Giles (Not 22). Thanks to Kelvin Dyson for the loan of kit before the game.
Alliance hot-shot, Lee O'Neil.
More Saddle pressure in the opposition box.
On fifteen minutes another Saddle corner had the Skye defenders in a panic but the header skimmed the post and went safely out for a goal kick. Two minutes later and the Saddle were further ahead. Striker Craig Davies pounced on the fumblings of a hesitant defender, robbed him on the edge of the box and in the picture below steers it past the adavncing Aspden. 0-3.
A minute later and it was 4-0 as Davies beat the offside trap getting on the end of a neat through ball. Aspden came out but once again he was beaten. On twenty minutes it was five as Chris Smith smashed an unstoppable thirty yard drive into the top corner past the flailing hand of Aspden. Twenty minutes gone and the Skye had caved in. 0-5.
“What are we doing?”
The Skye FC keeper is replaced by Kev McClumskey although few if any of the goals were his fault. Manager Ali Martin came on at right back in an attempt to steady the ship.
On 24 minutes a quickly taken free Skye free kick led to Lee O'Neill being sent clean through one on one with the keeper. There was only going to be one outcome. In the picture below O'Neill scores past Saddle keeper Steven 'Goldberg' Coles. 1-5.
O'Neill scores in the far corner.
Steven Coles (Ex Claremont Cons) the new Saddle keeper.
The only bad challenge in the game sees the Skye player down.
Lee O'Neill's goal didn't provide his team with respite for too long. On the half hour another Lee Sheard corner again found the head of Joel Chappell and the big man had his hat trick. The Skye defenders simply couldn't cope with his imposing presence. 1-6.
Two minutes later and a long throw into the Skye box by Ben Berry was flapped at by McClumskey who didn't deal with it. Chris Smith did as he knocked it in at the far post for his second of the match. 1-7.
Drive slowly captain
Skye FC player manager Alasdair Martin.
Mr & Mrs Begg out watching son Daniel captain the Saddle FC.
Half time score : Skye FC 1 – 7 Saddle FC
It was wise to take a picture of Ali's animated team talk on maximum zoom. The St Annes residents had to close the windows on hearing Ali's thoughts on a shocking first half display.
Skye FC secretary Karen wisely keeps out of the way.
Joel Chappell (Right)
Skye striker Rab Moore unhappy blaming a team mate for not reading his misplaced pass.
Skye FC now had the advantage of the wind and for twenty minutes thay improved somewhat. However, they failed to pressurise their opponent's keeper in the same way the Saddle had done in the first half from dead ball positions.
Skye manager Ali Martin searching for the ball in the shrubbery. “Where's that ****** ball?”
On 64 minutes Lee O'Neil evaded a clumsy challenge on the edge of the box, raced clear and then stood on the ball and tripped. Referee Giles saw nothing wrong with either incident and waved play on. The ball went down the other end and more woeful defending again saw the last defender robbed as he dawdled on the ball. The Saddle player tried to evade the keeper but he was clearly barged over. Penalty and controversy.
“Don't walk away from me ya eedyiot whilst I'm berating ya” screams Skye manager Martin but his complaints about inconsistency with the O'Neill incident were waved away.
“I'm not listening.”
Somewhere in there Chris 'Ginger' Smith converts the spot-kick for his hat-trick.
Three minutes later and Saddle scored yet again. A good move this one. Ben Berry played in substitute Tom Hole and he shot across keeper McClumskey into the far corner. 1-9.
Michael Kershaw not happy at being subbed churlishly refusing to shake hands with his replacement.
Jet 2 – Skye 0
The Saddle were pushing hard for double figures and Skye were battling in equal measures to avoid the humiliation. In the picture below a Saddle chance looked to have crossed the line but it was cleared away. Only Ali knows if it was in or not as he's in the best position. It looked over to me but referee Giles waved play on.
Is it in? Ali's on the post and looking behind him. 10 says it must be 10 but referee Giles, without the aid of goal-line technology, says 'no'.
Saddle skipper Danny Begg.
In the dying minutes Rab Moore scored another consolation for Skye. A fine goal from distance that keeper Coles got nowhere near. 2-9.
Keeper Goldberg fishes out Rab's piledriver from the back of the net and splits his shorts in the process.
Final score : Skye FC 2 – 9 Saddle FC
A miserable defeat then for Skye as they were beaten for the first time this season in the league. A terrible start saw them down and out as they went 5-0 behind after only twenty minutes. The midfield were non-existent for most of the match as the strikers were starved of any decent delivery of note. The defenders were frankly poor at dealing with set-pieces. If there is one consolation for Ali from this morning's mauling is that seven of the goals were as a result of bad defending. They completely failed to deal with the aerial threat of the Saddle and gave away the ball twice on the edge of their own box. At least these errors can be addressed and worked upon.
The Saddle were excellent this morning. There's little difference in personnel from last season. They don't have any real 'stars' but they're a hard working bunch who play for each other and who are clearly enjoying the winning habit. Man of the Match Joel Chappell was awesome throughout. He had Moore and O'Neill in his pocket for most of the match at one end whilst remaining a permanent aerial threat at the other end and his three goals were well deserved. The Saddle still have some very good teams to play in Division 2B but I expect them to be challenging come next April.
Hat trick heroes Joel Chappell and Chris Smith fight for the match ball.
Oliver Chappell 'well chuffed' (Extremely proud), of dad Joel's great performance this morning.