Sportspy Reports – Sunday January 6th 2008.

On the road with Poulton SFC as they attempted to reach the semi-final of this season's Lancashire Sunday Trophy.  Penwortham, Preston was the venue and the New Meadow Street Labour Club FC were the opponents.

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Two of our Alliance sides have reached the quarter-finals of the lancashire Sunday Trophy this season and as I write Blackpool Rangers could yet make it three if they win away against Rochdale side Success to the Plough FC this morning.  Whatever, happened today the BFSFA has done well and continues to improve its standing in this difficult competition.

Along with last season's losing finalists Quilligans who play away against Wigan side Woodhouse Athletic this morning fellow Premier Division side Poulton SFC have also made it through to the last eight.  They were away today against Preston side New Meadow Street Labour Club FC.  In recent season's New Meadow have done very well in the Sunday Trophy.  In 2004/05 they also reached the last eight and in the following season they were beaten in the final by D&P Copperpot FC who knocked out Quilligans on their way to victory.

What happened to them last season is something of a mystery.  The Preston Prem league table shows them finishing bottom after losing all of their 22 games.  This, after losing narrowly in the previous season's Sunday Trophy final is unlikely without a good reason.  Maybe I'd find out what it was today.

This morning Chris Collins' New Meadow were third in Division 1 of the Preston Sunday league miraculously back in form with a 100% league record of five wins out of five.  Their only defeat of the season came recently in the Challenge Cup where they were beaten by Premier Division side Preston Town.  In the Sunday Trophy they'd already knocked out two of our Premier Division sides.  In round 1 they beat Shake FC 12-2 before reciving a home walkover against Milton in round 2.  In round 3 another home victory saw them beat Layton Institute 5-1.  Fellow Preston side Unicorn FC were the victims in round 4 as Meadow won 2-1 and in round 5 it was the end of Highfield Social FC's involvement as they lost 3-0 at home.

After early season form few would have predicted Poulton SFC reaching the last eight.  Two league defeats early on combined with a number of player defections left them struggling but every credit to them as they've picked up form in recent months.  Going into the new year they're still well placed in the table with games in hand on the leaders.  Next weekend they take on Quilligans in the last eight of the Gledhill Cup.

In the Sunday Trophy they received a bye in Round 1 before opening up with 6-2 home win over Westdene in Round 2.  Local side the Saddle FC were their third round opponents and they went down 6-3.  In round 4 they pulled off a great 3-1 win over top Preston Prem side Acre Gate Lane Labour Club who are still the favourites to take the Preston title this season.  Round 5 saw Poulton knock out another Alliance side in the shape of Pulcinellas FC, 6-1 was the final scoreline.

Would New Meadow make it hat-trick of Alliance Premier Division scalps in the Sunday Trophy this season or would it be Poulton who made it through to the semi-finals?  Penwortham, Preston was the venue.  The weather was dry, bright, relatively calm and not overly cold.  

Referee Steve Foster was the man in charge assisted by two neutral linesmen and at 11am he got proceedings under way with Poulton in the red kicking off.

New Meadow Street Labour Club FC 2007/08

This morning's officials.

Poulton SFC 2007/08

We're underway.

Poulton settled down quickly and they enjoyed much the better of the opening exchanges.  On seven minutes the Meadow keeper pulled off a great low save.  A minute later he dropped the ball at the feet of Carl Eastwood who slotted home but the liner's flag was up for offside.

In the first twenty minutes Poulton had at least four golden opportunities to take the lead put a combination of wayward finishing and great goal-keeping by the busy Tony Adjecovic kept them at bay.

Gareth Fegan.

New Meadow keeper Tony Adjecovic.

Gary Pett.

The linesman keeps a close eye on things.

On 24 minutes the home side created their first real opportunity.  Michael Doyle was causing Poulton problems in the middle of the park with his pacey runs.  He played a good through ball but the resultant shot went wide.

A break for a breather.

The Poulton defensive wall.

Thirsty work for the players in the winter sunshine.

Part of the New Meadow contingent.

Andy Mitchell (Left) and Darren Worgan who was New Meadow's best player in the first half.

Tom Porter.

Guy Sharrock (Left)

Worgan wins yet another flick on but there was nobody on the end of it.

Poulton keeper Neil Hesketh tips it over.

As the first half neared its conclusion Poulton continued to push for an opener.  Young Kennerley was causing havoc down the left flank and providing decent end product to the strikers.  In the photo below Poulton look certain to score but once again New Meadow escape.

Meadow man down injured – time for refreshment.

My watch was showing 45 minutes played as Poulton's first half dominance finally paid dividends.  A long ball down the flank found Gary Pett onside and this time he made no mistake as he maintained his composure to drive the ball past Adjecovic into the far corner.  0-1 and no more than Poulton deserved.  We only had time for the restart before referee Foster blew his whistle for half time.

Pett (16) fires Poulton into the lead.

Half time score :  New Meadow Street Labour Club FC 0 – 1 Poulton SFC.

A half time rollocking for the New Meadow lads who knew they were lucky to be only one down at the interval.  The pack was reshuffled with three substitutes coming on.

New Meadow Street get the second half underway.

A  great catch by Hesketh.

On 47 minutes another break at pace by Poulton led to the second goal.  Fegan crossed over a great low ball, Pett (right) dummied it in the picture above.

Only for Kennerley to steam in at the far post and smash the ball home.  0-2.

Kennerley (Right) is mobbed after the crucial second.

A good block.

Well over the bar.

Porter down injured.

After shrugging off the disappointment of the second goal and bedding in the three substitutes New Meadow at last began to play some decent football.  For the first time in the match they were winning the second ball and creating a few good spells of offensive pressure.  On 52 minutes a header looped over Hesketh and was just about cleared by the poulton defenders.  However, New Meadow  still looked vulnerable to the quick breaks of Poulton.  On 65 a long Hesketh goal kick was brilliantly controlled out on the wing.  The immediate cross found Eastwood but the keeper's chest denied him from point blank range.

Eastwood is denied on 65 minutes.

Nick Thompson.

Alan Cocker asks for more.

Adam Kennerley.

Chris Morris.

Another good punch from Adjecovic.

As we entered the last twenty minutes of the match it was do or die for New Meadow.  Players on both sides were going down with cramp as the sticky pitch took its toll.  The home side were on top and giving it everything. In the picture below Worgan pulls out a great save from Hesketh on 73 minutes.

Worgan (4) goes close for the Meadow.

On 82 minutes Franny Johnrose had a great opportunity to pull one back for the home side.  A long cross to the far post looked perfect for the sub but his header just went wide – Agony.  On 88 minutes however New Meadow finally pulled one back.  After an injry to a Poulton player the ball was thrown back towards the Poulton box but Hesketh stayed on his line.  This forced the defender into clearing for a throw.  The long throw was headed out towards the edge of the box where Matt Williams was waiting.  He beat Hesketh with a dipping volley from twenty yards.  1-2 and game on.

No more subs – get back out there.

Despite a nervy last couple of minutes of normal time along with the three additional minutes added on by referee Foster New Meadow failed to create another real opportunity and Poulton held on to win the game.

Final score : New Meadow St Labour Club FC 1 – 2 Poulton SFC.

Few, if any, could argue that the best team progressed through to the semi finals.  Poulton dominated for the first hour and created a hatful of good chances.  New Meadow were lucky to only be one down at the break.  The early goal in the second half was crucial for the visitors and despite a big improvement from the home side in the second period they were always fairly comfortable.

It was a great team performance from Poulton today with some big performances all the way though the side.  The forwards held the ball up well and worked hard, the defence looked solid in front of the confident keeper, especially in the air from start to finish and the midfielders were tenacious in the tackle and hardly lost a second ball all day.  Young Kennerley worked his socks off and desrved his goal and just about edged my man of the match.

As for New Meadow they'll reflect on a performance that didn't deserve the victory.  Their man of the match was undoubtedly keeper Adjecovic who kept them in the match following countless great saves and blocks – he can count himself to be unlucky to be on the losing side.  Worgan was committed and Doyle was good on the ball through midfield.  Manager Collins and his squad can now concentrate on staying unbeaten in the league whilst engineering an immediate reurn back to the Preston Sunday league Premier Division.

Goal scorers Gary Pett (Left) and Adam Kennerley.

Sportspy 2007/08

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