|The far reaches of Moor Park, Bispham this morning watching the Division 3B encounter between Uncle Toms Cabin FC and Mimmos Metrostars FC.|
For both of these sides this is only their second season in Fylde Coast Sunday football. It wasn't an easy first season for either of them. For most of the last campaign it looked very much like Uncle Tom's Cabin FC would have ended up with the wooden spoon but a late improvement saw them finish second bottom four points ahead of Staining CES Electrical. Eleven points was all they could muster from the twenty-six league games played. They were also eliminated at the first attempt of both the Gledhill and the Divisional Cups.
Either side of Christmas they were especially dreadful. A 16-0 defeat to the Royal pre-Christmas was followed by a 13-0 defeat to the Windmill in the New Year. The week after they suffered a 12-3 defeat to Ward Heating and then a 4-0 defeat to Burlington's. Things looked very bleak for Tom's and there was some talk of the club folding but they picked up with a couple of wins and a draw. They then finished poorly with four straight defeats so it was little wonder that pre-season predictions gave them little chance of success.
But what do the so-called pundits know? Heading towards the end of November the team are second in the league behind Burlington FC on goal difference. A big win this morning would give them a great chance of going top. Nine wins, two draws and only two defeats represents a massive improvement for manager Matthew Shaw's Uncle Toms Cabin FC. They've already beaten Burlington 9-5 and have Spindles to play next week so it's an important few weeks for the club. Still no Cup win in the Alliance as they went down 6-3 to Premier Division side and Quarter finalists Additions FC in Round 2 after a first Round bye. In a couple of week's they have the opportunity to break that duck in a Divisional Cup tie against the Stable Bar FC.
Whilst the pundits were writing off the chances of Toms pre-season they were also speaking highly of this morning's opponents Mimmos Metrostars FC. The side finished sixteen points ahead of Toms last season in eleventh place. Eight wins and three draws was very creditable for their first season but with a final goal difference of minus 50 you could see where the problem lay. Like Toms they too were knocked out of last season's Gledhill and Divisional Cups at the first hurdle.
This season the team are managed by Chris Paul and sponsored by Mimmos Italian Restaurant in Cleveleys. Thus far they've under-performed to pre-season expectations. Two wins and three draws is all they have to show from the first thirteen games and it will now take a phenomenal improvement to see them finish in the top seven. Once again the team is struggling to find the right balance between attack and defence as evidenced by the 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6 draws against Frenchman's Cove, South Beach and North Mount respectively.
When they do get it right defensively as in the recent 1-0 defeat to much fancied Rossall Tavern they failed to find the net at the other end. You get the feeling with Mimmos that they're not far off 'clicking' as a unit. Like Toms they're still looking for their first Cup win in Sunday football. In this season's Gledhill they managed to put four past unbeaten 3A leaders Autoweld but managed to leak eight at the other end. In a few week's they have to get by Burlington FC if they're to reach Round 2 of the Divisional Cup.
These two sides were meeting for the first time this season. Last season the points were shared. Mimmos won the first match 4-1 whilst Toms won the return 6-0. Tom's the clear favourites with the bookies to win this morning's game.
Pretty miserable along the coast this morning, very cold in the strong chilly breeze but at least the last of the night's rain had blown away. Today's official was Dale Harvey and at 11:05am he got the game underway with the Mimmos in the dark stripes attacking the ditch end on Pitch 2.
Mimmos Metrostars FC 2006/07.
Uncle Toms Cabin FC 2006/07.
'Heads it is, we'll stay as we are'.
Metro keeper Mark Bray.
On 7 minutes Metro took the lead through some Route 1 football. A long wind assisted boot upfield sent in-form strike Stuart Wilson clear and he provided a great first time finish as he lashed it across the keeper into the far corner. 0-1.
On ten minutes a repeat move from the Metros doubled their lead. Once again keeper Bray was the provided with the long punt upfield. 'Leave it for the keeper' was the Tom's suggestion but Wilson again beat him to it and a neat lob found the back of the net. 0-2.
The Toms' defenders are all at seas as Wilson scores his second.
Toms prepare to defend a Mimmos corner.
A great tip over the bar from Toms' keeper Adrian 'Ado' Howard.
'Alfie' out watching the Bispham Hotel on the adjacent pitch.
On twenty-five minutes it was 0-3. This time Wilson was the provided as his cross from the left found strike partner Greg Paul unmarked and he made no mistake in finding the net.
Greg Paul makes it 0-3.
The Metro's were still celebrating when Tom's pulled one back. Almost straight from the kick-off the talented Bradley Gill cut inside and hit an unstoppable shot from an acute angle past Bray. 1-3.
The Tom's fightback was shortlived. More hesitant defending inside their own box allowed Nick Cannon to fire home from ten yards. 1-4.
Wilson goes close once again.
…………….and don't you forget it.
33 minutes gone and Mimmos amazingly scored again. A throughball found Wilson miles offside but the flag stayed down. He crossed it for Greg Paul who had time to take a touch before choosing his spot. 1-5.
Paul celebrates his second.
In the book.
Toms go close just before the break.
Half time score : Uncle Toms Cabin FC 1 – 5 Mimmos Metrostars FC.
'Come on lads we're still in this'.
Tom's keeper Ado gets receives some half time repairs.
The second half gets underway.
Toms started the second half much the brighter. The chill wind was now on their backs and they were putting the pressure on. On 48 minutes Gill lobbed the keeper but the ball just eluded the angle of bar and post.
On 52 minutes tenacious work from Anthony Shaw in the middle of the park allowed the ball to run through for Fairnie. He was simply admired by the Metro rearguard as he took it on a couple of paces before lashing it past Bray. 2-5. A minute later Gill went close as his shot hit the bar.
The Metro's players just couldn't get near Bradley Gill.
Metro's were still creating chances as this effort was reduced to a blur and just fizzed over the bar. A cross from the right was then headed just wide as Metro's created a good spell of pressure.
On 67 minutes Tom's pulled another one back. Poor defending from a Gill corner allowed Fairnie to pounce and he steered it in the corner. 3-5.
With ten munutes left Greg Paul gave away a petulant free-kick thirty yards out. The ball was laid off for Fairnie and in the picture below his effort beats Bray to make it 4-5. Tom's were sensing a famous victory whilst you could begin to smell the fear in the Mimmos players.
A minute later we had more drama and for a moment the cold weather was forgotten as Tom's were awarded a clear penalty for a trip inside the box. In the picture below Bradley Gill makes it 5-5 from the spot.
Metro's go close at the other end.
If it isn't deep in the ditch on this pitch it's stuck in the tree but the corner flag proves useful in retrieving it.
'Cannon misfires'. Metro's had a great chance to grab a dramatic late winner but Nick Cannon chose the wrong option as he tried to score from an impossible angle with three team-mates waiting for a simple tap in.
Final score : Uncle Toms Cabin FC 5 – 5 Mimmos Metrostars FC
A classic Sunday league encounter this one with ten goals shared and lots of incident. For a team that's gone top of the league this morning Tom's were something of a disorganised rabble at 10:55 with players arriving late and no net up. They could only muster ten players for this morning' s game and nearly paid the price.
Credit where it's due they still like to play football even when they're 5-1 down and a spirited second half performance was desrvedly rewarded with a point. Fairnie and Gill are quality players but they won't stick around if they don't see the same level of commitment from today's missing players. If they can get a team out they'll be there or thereabouts come late April.
As for Mimmos it was a dejected troop of players that left the pitch. Once again they'd been involved in a high scoring draw and it definitely felt like two points dropped rather than a point gained. They too have some good forwards but they're definitely missing some ball winners in midfield. The striker Wilson is a quality player and he took his goals well. A few tweaks here and there will put Mimmos on a good run but if it isn't done quickly then it looks like a bottom half of the table finish once agin for the Metrostars. Well officiated by Mr Harvey.