|It was the short trip to Blackpool Wren Rovers this morning to watch the Lancashire Sunday Trophy 4th Round tie between the Premier Division's Highfield Social FC and Wigan side North Star FC. Both sides were looking for a place in the last sixteen of this famous competition.|
The final table for the last two seasons has shown Highfield Social FC in 9th position. Going into mid November they still occupy that same position after eight games. It's fair to say that the pre-season merger with Cahoots FC has not gone overly smoothly. The two camps have taken/are taking time to blend. They had a very big squad during the summer and since then it's been the job of joint managers Steve Riches and Mark Faber to try and find team that's both good enough and more importanly committed enough to make an impression on the Prem.
Frustratingly for Social fans they've struggled for any kind of consistency. In the league they've had four wins and four defeats whilst Cup form has generally been good. Great victories against the likes of Poulton, Highbury, Wrea Green, Bloomfield Vets and Preston Town have been offset with disappointing defeats against Northern Care, Layton Institute, Red Rose Catering and most recently Hydronics FC in last week's 3-0 Gledhill Cup defeat.
As I keep on saying they have an excellent team on paper who often fail to get it together on the pitch. There' s still time for this season to be a good one for the Social. A win today would put them in the last sixteen of the Lancashire Sunday Trophy which is no mean feat and a good look at the table shows the gap between ninth placed Social and secon placed Layton is only three points.
The team showed their collective worth away at Preston Town FC when they won on penalties after drawing 4-4. They can do it when they make the effort. Another away win in Preston against Fulwood East End (3-5) helped set up this morning's tie against Wigan opposition.
Last season North Star FC finished runners up in Division 1 of the South Lancs Counties Football League eleven points behind champions Denton Athletic FC. They were rewarded with promotion to the Premier Division but adapting to life in the higher league hasn't been easy. This morning Dave Catterall's men were lying down in twelfth spot in the thirteen team Division just a point ahead of botom club Hawkley. After a first Round bye they beat Preston side Lea FC in Round 2 before knocking out our very own Spindles FC of Division 3B in Round 3. In their version of the Premier Division Cup they initially beat Standish Potters in Round 1 before going down 4-2 to Upholland Rangers in Round 2.
The reward for this morning's winners would be a home tie against Unicorn or New Meadow Street in the last sixteen.
It was showery and cool along the Fylde Coast this morning but the expected strong winds had failed to appear. The overcast conditions made it not the best of days for photographs.
The Wren Rovers pitch has been in very good condition this season so no complaints about the surface. Local man Alan Young was the official and he got the game underway at 11:10am with the Social in the tangerine strip defending the School Road end.
Highfield Social FC 2007/08.
North Star FC 2007/08
On three minutes the Social had a great chance to take the lead. Dan Sutton played a peach of a pass through to Carl Faber but despite setting himself well in the picture below his shot eluded the far post.
Faber shoots wide.
Highfield keeper Mark Brooks.
Highfield joint manager Mark Faber.
The Highfield liner is in trouble with the ref early doors.
The first half was very enteratining with lots of chances at either end. Highfield were having good possession down the flanks with Faber and Devereaux getting some good crosses in but they wouldn't fall kindly for Frend and Conway. The opposition were good in possession and they created three excellent one on one chances which brought out last gasp blocking saves from Brooks in the Highfield goal.
Keeper Brooks get clattered.
Today's referee Mr Young.
North Star keeper Andrew Naggington has to show good ability as the ball arrows towards the top corner.
On 38 minutes Dan Sutton flashed a shot wide for Highfield. Just before the break the visitors should have taken the lead. In the above picture No 9 (Far right) had a free header from a corner but he directed it just wide of the post. Still goalless at the break.
Half time score : Highfield Social FC 0 – 0 North Star FC.
Highfield fan Elliot Stenmbursky out watching the team this morning.
Good spit !
Big Ryan bursts the net during the interval.
One of the many people behind the scenes that make Sunday Football work – Highfield Social secretary John Ross.
Liam Frend (Right)
Every vantage point taken for this game.
Devereaux cuts loose.
On 57 minutes the deadlock was finally broken. Highfield were breaking clear down the right. Firstly, a Devereaux run and cross was hastily cleared. Minutes later Lee Conway raced away down the right flank. His low cross looked to be heading towards the keeper but good work from Faber beat him to it. He lid it back into the path of Frend who made no mistake from the edge of the box. 1-0.
Faber wins it and lays it back for Frend.
On 70 minutes North Star had a great chance to equalise. A low cross into the box looked certain to be steered home but a lasp gasp effort from Ellis Tortelli resulted in the ball being deflected over the bar for a corner.
North Star very unlucky not to equalise.
On 78 minutes Highfield produced the all important second goal. A break upfield ended with a pass through the middle to Faber. The keeper rushed him but he kept his composure and slotted it home. 2-0.
Faber finds the back of the net to make it 2-0.
………..and then gets mobbed by his team-mates.
The North Star club secretary (Left) watches on.
North Star manager Dave Catterall.
The North Star player nearly has Nuttall's shorts off but still won a free-kick.
North Star still threatening the Highfield goal.
Highfield brought on big Joe McGivern for big Liam Frend up front and the genial scouser was soon causing problems. In the picture below he went very close to making it 3-0.
McGivern goes close.
A great save by Naggington denies McGivern once again.
Into injury time and with the visitors pushing forward with little to lose another swift break from Highfield ended with Andy Nuttall drawing the keeper before flicking it past him to put the result beyond doubt. 3-0.
Nuttall scores for Highfield.
High Fives with Ford.
The whistle goes and Highfield are through to the last sixteen.
Final score : Highfield Social FC 3 – 0 North Star FC.
A good game to watch this one with plenty of chances at either end and well officiated by Alan Young. Despite there being no goals in the first 45 minutes it was the better half in my opinion. Each team had plenty of decent opportunities to score but they couldn't make the breakthrough.
The opening goal was going to be all important and when it came it changed the game as the visitors had to go in search of an equaliser. In the end resolute defending and two goals on the break sealed the fate of the Wigan side.
A good effort from Highfield today. After some early jitters the back four were defensively sound with Ford and Tortelli both putting in impressive performances. Conway worked very hard up front but it was never going to be his day in front of goal. There's nothing to stop Highfield finishing in the top six this season if they can achieve a settled squad and some consistency.
North Star were rather unfortunate not to score this morning. The legs of Highfield keeper Brooks kept them out but they never stopped trying for the whole ninety minutes. Well disciplined and organised they were especially good in midfield and keeper Naggington was also called upon to make some imortant saves. Good luck to North Star for the rest of the season and we hope they enjoyed their two visits to the coast to play our sides in the Lancashire Sunday Trophy. Highfield are now just one win away from the last eight. Can they make it through?