|Out in the sunshine at Boundary Park watching the Division 1 Cup first round tie between Blackpool Rangers FC and Sundays FC. Both sides were still unbeaten in the league and they were meeting for the first time. Who would make it through to the last eight?|
After what seemed like an eternity of high winds, dark skies and heavy rain we at last had bright conditions for Sunday football at Boundary Park this morning. Clear blue skies, flat calm and a heavy frost was the reward for the early risers. In the Division 1 Cup we had Blackpool Rangers FC hosting Sundays FC in a much-anticipated clash between two sides that were still unbeaten in the league. The sides were meeting for the first time in the BFSFA.
This is the third season in the Alliance for Blackpool Rangers FC. They're a team on the up after two successive promotions and approaching the end of February they're still on track for promotion number three up to the top flight of Sunday football. After losing only one league match in their short BFSFA history the club are on an unbeaten league streak of 47 matches which is some achievement for manager John Miles and his young squad.
The league table shows them in fifth this weekend. They're a massive twenty-two points behind runaway leaders Sundays FC but they have six games in hand and still have to play Sundays FC twice. It's still in their own hands but if they were to overhaul the leaders at this stage then it would be remarkable. They've lost twice this season and both games were in the Cup. One defeat came in Round 3 of the Gledhill Cup against Queens FC and the other came in the last eight of he Lancashire Sunday Trophy when losing 3-2 away at Rochdale side Success to the Plough FC. If they have a weakness then it comes in Cup competitions where they've largely under-performed both at junior and senior levels.
Opponents Sundays FC are on an unbeaten run of eighteen league games themselves which is no mean feat and like Rangers they're still to be beaten in the league this season. The club proudly sit at the top of Division 1 with a healthy looking nineteen point lead. With only seven games left many bookmakers have stopped taking bets on the title winners but manager Paul Stevens realises that it's not that straightforward. Those seven games come against Blackpool Rangers (twice), second placed Dunes Hotel (twice), sixth placed CTK (twice) and the Waterloo Hotel.
If the club can retain their unbeaten record until the end of the season whilst picking up four wins then they'll be worthy champions. The clubs only defeat of the season so far came on September 2nd when they lost to fellow Division 1 side Gardeners Arms in round 2 of the Gledhill Cup. The Gardeners have gone on to reach the semi-final. After scoring 79 and only conceding 17 the club are in great form at either end of the pitch. That phenomenal goal difference will also prove to be a big advantage in the run in.
All set then for an intriguing Cup encounter that will also set the stage for the two forthcoming league matches. Ranger's injury problems upfront continue with Beattie and Casson still out injured. For Sundays the camera's favourite Craig Byrom was absent with his recurring injury. Top conditions at Boundary Park this morning. Today's official was David Connor and at 11:00am exactly he got the game underway on Pitch 1 with Sundays in the white kit kicking off with the sun in their faces.
Sundays FC 2007/08.
Blackpool Rangers FC 2007/08.
Respective captains Mike Braebaum (Left) and Gary Rawcliffe.
Referee Mr Connor.
Rangers' manager John Miles.
'Keeper's ball !'……………….just.
Joe Booth (Front)
As expected the opening twenty minutes were extremely tight with both sides having an even share of possession although neither could create a chance of note. The game was held up for a few minutes after Cottam's 'hospital pass' to a colleague resulted in the latter getting clattered. Thankfully, he was quickly back on his feet again and the game continued.
Sundays FC keeper Dave Stevenson.
Dennis Peters on the prowl.
On 35 minutes Sundays created the first real opportunity. A long ball was misjudged by Neil Kirton and Casson was clear. He elected for the first time effort from distance that just flashed past the post.
Curt Smith (Front)
On 42 minutes the game came alive. Rangers claimed that C Cairns had been tackled from behind but he looked as though for once he failed to control it. The loose ball was picked up and played through to Jamie 'Wolf' Chadwick who found the net from a great long range effort. 0-1.
Nick Brown is stranded as Chadwick's effort finds the back of the net for the opener.
Almost immediately Rangers went down the other end. A short corner found the Sundays' defence half asleep. Good close control from Chris Cairns elicited a trip from Craig Ellis and referee Connor had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Few arguments from Sundays. Dax Hoogerweff stepped home and converted the penalty to make it 1-1.
Hoogerweff's penalty finds the bottom corner.
Half time score : Blackpool Rangers FC 1 – 1 Sundays FC.
Dave Taylor (Left) and John McNicholas discuss the first half action.
On 51 minutes Rangers keeper Nick Brown was called into action as he tipped a Daniels effort over the bar.
Good save by Nick Brown.
Dave Stevenson also busy at the other end.
On 59 minutes another Ranger's corner caused problems for the Sundays defence. This time an athletic Joe Booth effort jusr went wide.
On 66 minutes the Ranger's keeper inexplicably spilled the ball at the feet of Casson and in the picture above he just missed.
Two minutes later and Mark Cottam looked almost certain to score until Neil Kirton flew across and blocked his shot as seen in the picture below. It was to prove a key moment in the match.
Kirton (16) lays his body on the line to block Cottam's (7) shot.
On 81 minutes Blackpool Rangers took the lead. A corner from the left was flicked on and in the ensuing scrample Dax Hoogerweff twisted and turned on the loose ball and steered it home. 2-1.
Dax Hoogerweff scores the second for Rangers.
Sunday's Jamie Chadwick was incensed as he believed that he had been held down when the corner came in. The red mist descended as he charged upfield to discuss the point with referee Connor. It looked as though the big fella layed hands on the perfectly sculptered body of Connor. There were anxious looks as the card was brandished but thankfully for Chadwick it was yellow. Good refereeing from Connor who allowed for high emotions.
It's a yellow card for Chadwick.
A glorious February morning at Boundary Park.
So much so that the CTK FC sub who took up the flag took advantage by topping up his Grange Park tan.
The final whistle goes and Blackpool Rangers FC are through to the last eight.
Final score : Blackpool Rangers FC 2 – 1 Sundays FC.
An excellent game this one played in a very good spirit between two evenly matched sides. It sets up nicely the two league games to come. The first half was very close with very few chances until the flurry of activity in the last five minutes. The second half saw more of the same and both sides had good chances to snatch the victory.
Rangers lacked pace up front and all too often ball from midfield wasn't used well enough. Sundays struggled from corners which eventually proved to be their undoing. Both sides played some great football on the deck and generally kept the ball well. Chris Cairns had a good game for Rangers and Cottam and Casson played well up front for Sundays. Overall, Braebaum and Kirton were on top.
Hopefully, we'll see both of these sides in the Premier Division next season. Rangers will now play CTK FC in the last eight after they beat the Philharmonic on an adjoining pitch. Well officiated by Dave Connor who was in full control throughout.
Eye to eye, “You may have won the battle but you 'aint won the war”. “Until the next time”. “Bring it on sunshine!”