|My first visit to the new Sunday footballing venue of Rossall school to watch 2B side Pulcinellas FC host Preston side AFC Ashwood in Round 2 of this season's Lancashire Sunday trophy.|
I honestly never thought I'd get past the gates of Rossall School, the educational breeding ground for the privileged offspring of local rugby stars and Saudi princes but here I was and the facilities are top class for Sunday morning football. I could almost smell the homo-eroticism of the dorm as I parked the car outside the Hogwarts of the Fylde.
Local side Pulcinellas FC have secured the venue as their home ground for 2007/08 and opposing teams will look forward to playing here. Last season Pulcinellas FC, playing as Secure Health FC, made their Alliance debut and loved it. Although finishing well behind eventual champions Cash & Carry Kitchens and runners up Royal FC third place was a great achievement and it deservedly rewarded them with promotion to Division 2B.
After five games in the higher Division they're sitting proudly in second place three points behind early leaders Saddle FC. Four league wins and only one defeat against the Bloomfield Hotel have given them twelve points. Last week's win over previously unbeaten Cash & Carry Kitchens was an important one.
They're also going well in the Gledhill Cup. Wins over the Squirrel (2A) and Progress Property Management (Premier) in rounds one and two respectively have set up an exciting looking tie against Fleetwood Car Centre in the third round next Sunday.
Manager Paul Haslam has great hopes for this season and an adventure in the Lancashire Sunday trophy would only help further the experience of some of the younger members in the squad. The recent acquisition of top Fleetwood striker Ian Vickers is a top signing for this Division as he's a handful for any defender. Check out the website for Pulcinella's restaurant here.
This morning's opponents were AFC Ashwood from the Lancashire Evening Post Preston Sunday league. They were second in Division 2 after having exactly the same start as Pulcinellas. Their four wins had come against AC Muldoons, Worden Rangers, Victoria Reserves and the Station. Their only defeat, when losing 6-2 against the Victoria Reserves came at home on September 2nd. They're one point behind leaders Fishwick Rangers. They play out of Salmesbury at British Aerospace.
They've not done so well in the Cup. In the Challenge Cup they went out on penalties to Division 1 team Fulwood East End after drawing 2-2. Last week they disappointingly lost 1-0 at home to fellow Division 2 side Bradley Wanderers in the President's Cup. The Preston league website is one of the better ones but it gives no details as to how the team went on last season. Ashley Sleight, with five goals in five looked to be he danger man.
Great conditions on the coast for this morning's match, flat calm with blue skies. I'd been told the pitch was excellent and so it proved. Paul Tuffy was today's referee and at 11am the game was underway with Pulcinellas in the white defending the Irish sea end.
Pulcinellas FC 2007/08
AFC Ashwood 2007/08
Fascist referees !
FC Ashwood's player manager Peter McKenna.
Ashwood keeper Will Kilpatrick.
Pulcinella's player manager Paul Haslam.
AFC Ashwood had been hit by a couple of injuries and top scorer Sleight was absent. Disappointingly Ian Vickers was also missing for Pulcinellas. He had tonsilitus which will at least shut him up for a while. The opening exchanges were tight and guarded with the home side shading possession. On eleven minutes a Chris Bond cross was headed just over.
Danny Betmead (Right)
Pulcinella goalie Mike Barkworth outside church on a Sunday morning.
On thirty minutes Pulcinellas took the lead. Right winger Chris Bond had been causing the Ashwood left back all kinds of problems early on. Bond's good hold up play resulted in a short pass to Glen Taylor who crossed it into the danger area. The initial shot by Palfrey was blocked but the ball fell kindly to Dean McGinley on the edge of the box and his first time effort left the keeper rooted to the spot in the picture below. 1-0.
McGinley scores. The ball is selfishly obscured by the Ashwood No 15.
On 41 minutes we had drama as referee Tuffy spotted an infringement in the box following an Ashwood free-kick. Mr Tuffy ruled that an Ashwood player had been held down. In the picture below Lee Heath stepped up to send Barkworth the wrong way. 1-1.
Heath levels the scores.
A great tackle from behind (It looks painful)
Chris Bond retrieves the ball from the bushes.
'Vocal' Cockney Dave Shields in danger of swallowing the ball.
Half time score : Pulcinellas FC 1 – 1 AFC Ashwood.
I did ask mum to take a turn but she said 'No'……………spoilsport!
Joshua Edwards and Corey Haslam out watching Pulcinellas this morning.
Ian Bryce goes close for Pulcinellas.
If anything the second half was closer than the first. Although short on clear cut chances there was lots of good passing football on the deck from both sides. Pulcinellas were again having more possession but they're often too slow in getting the ball into the box. At the other end the pace and trickery of Heath along with the forward play of Eccles and Haycock were keeping the home defenders busy. On 61 minutes Haycock turned neatly in the box for Ashwood but fired it well over the Pulcinella crossbar.
Barkworth gets a kick on the ankle.
It was absolutely no surprise when Mr Tuffy's whistle brought normal time to a close with both sides deadlocked at 1-1.
Score after 90 minutes. Pulcinellas FC 1 -1 AFC Ashwood.
Pulcinella's get the first half of extra time under way.
On 100 minutes Pulcinellas made the breakthrough. A throw on the right wasn't dealt with by Ashwood. Betmead took it into the box where he was clumsily tripped by Chris Gore (AFC Ashwood club secretary). Betmead made a meal of it but it was definitely a penalty.
Chris Gore the offender.
Chris Bond sends Kilpatrick the wrong way to make it 2-1 from the spot.
AFC Ashwood captain, 40 year old Russell Marsden.
The Ashwood wall prepares itself.
The ball looks to be heading for the top corner but Kilpatrick moved quickly across to pluck it out of the air.
2-1 down Ashwood start the second half of extra time.
Mr Tuffy's whistle signifies a free kick after the Pulcinella's player was bundled over on the edge of the box.
Despite the best efforts of the Ashwood keeper, Dean McGinley's free kick finds the back of the net on 109 minutes. Surely no way back for Ashwood? 3-1.
This time it's Pulcinella's turn to defend a free kick
Haycock's free kick is athletically tipped over by Barkworth.
Pulcinella's again went close after a poor throw was intercepted by Adam Sumner who's lob bounced back off the upright with the keeper stranded.
Final score after extra time : Pulcinellas FC 3 – 1 AFC Ashwood
All the pre-match research suggested this would be a close fought encounter and so it proved. Both teams play in a Division of equal standard, both have the same record after five games and both are in decent form.
A good win then for Pulcinellas and overall their opponents can have few complaints about the outcome. They enjoyed more possession and looked fitter and stronger in extra time. The defence was well marshalled by Haslam and Shields and with Bond's creativity on the wing they created enough chances to win the game. McGinley's two strikes were both very well taken. Pulcinellas can look forward to another home tie in round 3 against the winners of this morning's match between Intervickers FC and Aspull FC.
A good effort from the visitors. They were somewhat depleted today with manager Pete McKenna having to make a rare appearance. They were also missing Ashley Sleight but this takes nothing away from Pulcinellas. Getting your best team to travel in the Lancashire Sunday trophy is a must if you're to progress.
The two centre halves played well but Lee heath was their best player with most of the team's offensive chances going through him. Haycock and Eccles worked hard up front with little reward. Whatever happens throughout the rest of the season AFC Ashwood will not look back with fondness on this season's three Cup competitions as they're out of all three at the first attempt before the end of September. Good luck to AFC Ashwood for the rest of the campaign. They look good bets for promotion.