|Across at Commonedge Road, Blackpool this morning watching the important Division 3B top of the table encounter between current leaders Burlington FC and second placed Spindles FC. A win for either side would have had a big effect on the overall title race.|
In recent weeks a number of the so-called challengers in Division 3B have faded away. Long time leaders Uncle Toms Cabin have only picked up four points from the last fifteen whilst Rossall Tavern have only collected seven points from the last eighteen. Although not impossible it's now going to be very difficult for any of the chasing pack to finish in the top two ahead of Burlingtons and Spindles. If anything, Frenchman's Cove and Layton Institute Juniors look to be the only threat when studying the recent form table.
Burlington were five points clear of second placed Spindles at start of play although they have played three games more. Burlington have picked up fifteen points from the last six games but that one defeat came against today's opponents Spindles in a 2-1 away loss. The team's only other defeat of the season also came away against Uncle Tom's Cabin who beat them 9-5. In the Gledhill Cup they opened up with a 7-3 win at Stanley Arms, Wesham before losing 1-0 fo FC Eden in Round 2. They're also surprisingly out of the Divisional Cup where an opening round victory over Mimmos Metrostars was spoiled by an away defeat to 3A's FC Excelsior last Sunday.
After just missing out on the promotion places last season it very much looks as though Lee Ramsden's side will greatly improve on last season's finishing position of sixth and achieve promotion but will they go up as champions?
Not if today's opponents Spindles have anything to do with it. The form table I alluded to earlier shows Spindles at the top after taking maximum points from the last eighteen available. After recently beating Burlington they were newly installed as favourites and a win today would leave them only two points behind the Burlington with three games in hand.
Last season, Adam Pretty and Graham Heathcote's team finished just one point behind the Burlington in seventh. Not to bad for their first season in the BFSFA. The Burlington took all six league points with two 2-1 wins. This season the team have won eleven and lost two of their thirteen league games. The two defeats came against Rossall Tavern and the Falcon.
Like the Burlington they went out of the Gledhill in Round 2. They had a good win against 2A side Jacks in Round 1 but lost 6-5 to the Waterloo Sports & Social club in Round 2. They also had a dabble in the Lancashire Sunday trophy. After beating Bar 19 they lost in the next round to North Star (Wigan).
In the Divisional Cup wins against Trades & Social and the Falcon have set up a difficult looking tie away at 3A outfit the Fairhaven.
For the second week running we eventually had good conditons for Sunday football with blue skies and no wind. The frost burned off sufficiently for the game to go agead. Pitch 4 was the venue and the official in charge for this morning's game was John McDonald. At 11:08am his whistle got the match underway with Spindles in the white strip kicking towards Collins Park.
Burlington FC 2007/08.
Spindles FC 2007/08.
It's a big match for Burlies as they go into the pre-match huddle.
Burlington manager Lee Ramsden.
An early booking for a bad challenge.
Spindles FC keeper Andy Huckerby.
The first twenty minutes were relatively uneventful as both teams probed each others defences without creating any clear chances of note. On 27 minutes Burlington almost took the lead but Mike Evans' header from Ian Swift's corner bounced back off the bar and was cleared.
Referee Mr John McDonald.
Push ref !
Mike Evans (right) arm in arm with his Spindles opponent.
On 32 minutes the Burlington took the lead. Craig Saxon's expert delivery from the corner found the unmarked head of Dave Coppock who found the back of the net from six yards out. 1-0.
Dave Coppock (9) heads home to give the Burlington the lead.
Jason Crumblehulme shows what he thinks about it.
Spindles FC co-manager Graham Heathcote.
The lovely Hannah finally found the Burlington after trecking around the Commonedge pitches. She was out watching boyfriend Ian Swift.
Oh yes, whilst I was distracted by Hannah, Spindles FC equalised on the stroke of half time. A free kick was awarded after Stephen Twist handled just outside the box. Spindles skipped Danny Howard drilled the free kick hard and low and a wicked deflection gave Burlington keeper Will Bailes no hope of re-adjusting. 1-1.
Half time score : Burlington FC 1 – 1 Spindles FC
It might be freezing but it's still thirsty work. Couldn't miss with that gob.
Eight year old Lewis out watching Trades & Social FC on the adjoining pitch.
Spinles fan 'Shy Laura' (Left) out watching her brother (Pictured) as well as her boyfriend.
Another member of the Spindles backroom staff.
Forget the football, just give me an icy ditch and a big stick and I'm happy.
Burlington keeper Will Bailes.
At 1-1 in any Division, never mind 3B, the game can go either way. For the first twenty minutes of the second half it was fairly even with both sides having decent spells of possession. All too often though the game was being played in the middle third of the pitch. On 62 minutes Evans went close for Burlington but his header from a Coppock cross just went over the bar.
Craig Saxon with the header.
Spindles FC skipper Danny Howard.
On 72 minutes the Burlington were awarded a free kick on the right wing five yards in from the touchline. Scott Buchanan swung it over, Ian 'BABE' Swift, nodded it on and there at the far post was Wayne Taylor to sidefoot hit into the net. 2-1.
Buchanan (Foreground) watches on as his free kick eventually finds the net. Referee McDonald signals the goal.
The Burlington prepare to face a free kick.
Bailes is left praying as the ball just loops over the bar.
Should have scored his second.
Mike Evans' involvement in the match is ended after a shoulder injury.
At 2-1 Spindles still had a chance of getting something from the match and as the game came towards its conclusion they were pushing for an equaliser. A free kick into the box was almost converted but the shot went wide when the header looked to be the better option.
Tough Scotsman Don Hassan wearing gloves. Whatever next?
On 88 minutes the Burlington sealed it. Spindles were caught short at the back as Ian Swift raced clear. He brought about a great save from Huckerby but instead of feeling sorry for himself he chased down the deflected ball and crossed it over to the far post where Wayne Taylor had a relatively easy tap in at the far post. 3-1.
Huckerby saves well from Swift (7)
But he can't stop Taylor scoring the decisive third at the far post.
The whistle goes and the three points belong to the Burlington.
Final score : Burlington FC 3 – 1 Spindles FC.
A good advert this one for Division 3B. Both teams contributed to a decent game of football which was played in a good spirit and well officiated by referee McDonald.
The Burlington then taking revenge for that defeat to Spindles a couple of months ago and few observers would argue that they fully deserved the victory. They seemed to be well up for it prior to the match and there was 100% effort given by all throughout. Coppock played well as did Swift. Eight crucial points is now the gap at the top and those points in the bag contrast against Spindles' three games in hand.
The visitors were not at their best today and just didn't do enough to deserve anything. They were flat and quiet and failed to produce few if any chances from open play. Still, the title race is still wide open and it's still anybody's guess who will be hoisting the Division 3B title trophy at the Layton Institute come May.