|Moor Park, Bispham was this morning's venue looking in on two teams for the first time this season. Frenchman's Cove FC of Division 3B were hosting Division 3A leaders Progress Sports & Social FC in the quarter finals of this season's Division 3 Cup.|
There's been a change of name for both of these sides this season. After two season's playing as the Windmill FC the team have re-branded under the banner of Progress Sports & Social FC. Pre-season they were also moved into Division 3A where they are currently two points clear of favourites FC Eden who have two games in hand. During their first season in the Alliance they finished in eighth and last season they dropped a place to 9th. Manager David Meehan has got the team playing well this season and promotion to Division 2 still looks to be a distinct possibility.
In this season's Gledhill Cup they beat 3B side Stable Bar in the opening round and there was no shame in losing to semi-finalists Hydronics FC of the Premier Division in Round 2. In order to reach this morning's Division 3 Cup quarter-final they've knocked out Ansdell FC in Round 1 and rivals Waterloo Sports & Social FC in Round 2.
Today's opponents were Frenchmans Cove FC of Division 3B. Last season they played as McKenzies Estates FC and their first season in Sunday football saw them finish in tenth. The current 3B table shows them in fifth place and recent form has been very good aside from last week's 8-1 mauling by Rossall Tavern FC. Prior to that debacle they had taken nineteen out of twenty-four points so it would be interesting to see how manager Ian Squires' side would react this morning.
They too reached round 2 of the Gledhill. A first round win over now defunct Bispham Hotel FC of Division 2A was followed by a round 2 defeat to South Beach FC. They also entered the Lancashire Sunday Trophy but lost at home heavily to Eccleston and Heskin FC in round 2 after a 1st round bye. They also received a first round bye in this competition and reached the last eight by beating Uncle Toms Cabin in round 2.
Last season the teams met three times. In the two league games the points were shared with a win a-piece. They also met in Round 2 of last season's Division 3 Cup when McKenzies won an entertaining game 4-3. They went on to lose to eventual finalists Wrea Green FC in the last eight.
This morning's referee was Brian Ward and a quick glance at the fair play tables may have provoked some concern prior to the match as Progress were third bottom in 3A and Frenchman's were rock bottom of the Alliance. The Moor Park weather was bright, cold and breezy. Pitch 1 was the venue and there's few better sheltered pitches when the wind is blowing off the sea. Unusually, we were underway at 10:55 with Progress in the 'Dennis the Menace' kit kicking towards the dressing rooms.
Frenchmans Cove FC 2007/08.
Progress Sports & Social FC 2007/08.
Progress kick off.
Cove manager Paul Ronson.
On six minutes Progress took the lead. A break down the left by O'Loughlin won his side a corner. He took it himself and poor marking in the Cove box allowed Danny Rodaway to pounce and covert. 0-1.
The ball is loose from the corner.
Rodaway puts the Progress 1-0 up.
Mark Gillett (Right) wins the header under the watchful eye of the official.
On 15 minutes the Cove were level. Progress conceded about the 30th free-kick of the match. The ball was swung high into the box. In the above picture you can see Progress keeper Chris Teasdale's gloves coming together without the ball sandwiched between them. The ball fell kindly for Cove's Danny Hartnet who made no mistake from short range. 1-1. Keeper Teasdale then changed his gloves blaming his tools of the trade for the error.
Progress cannot keep out Hartnet's equaliser.
On 19 minutes another defensive howler by Progress resulted in the Cove taking the lead. Paul Mullin hesitated on the right flank and failed to put the ball in the stand. Kev Gordon took it away from him and his excellent cross found Matthew 'Gorgeous George' Turner who placed it between Teasdale's legs. 2-1.
Turner puts the Cove in front.
A nasty cut shows the importance of a decent first aid kit.
Despite seeing three goals the first half our of this match was one to forget. Both teams seemed to be more interested in winding up the opposition and backchatting the referee who's whistle was rarely away from his mouth due to persistent niggling infringements. Both teams can play football when they concentrate and eventually the game settled down and the result was a faster flowing and more interesting game.
As the interval approached Progress were having a decent spell. Both Gillett and Meehan went close before they eventually equalised on 40 minutes. An initial shout for offside wasn't given and the ball was cleared but an immediate crossfield pass sent O'Loughlin racing clear and he maintained his composure to place the ball past Cove keeper Fuller. 2-2.
O'Loughlin (8) equalises for Progress.
Cove skipper Danny Holland lucky to avoid a yellow card from referee Ward.
Cove keeper Fuller.
On the stroke of half time Progress took the lead. A free kick was conceded by Cove in a dangerous area wide of the area. The initial kick was only half cleared but Dave Wadium's athletic ovehead kick looped over keeper Fuller and into the back of the net. 2-3. The half time whistle was blown shortly afterwards.
Fuller's in the earth as Progress capture the lead just before the break.
Half time score : Frenchman's Cove FC 2 – 3 Progress Sports & Social FC.
'Meehan.com' We had Mark last week for Layton and Shaun this week for Progress. Brother Dave is the Progress manager (Pictured right) alongside young Jamie Meehan.
10 month old Alfie Ronson showing absolutely no interest in The Cove's performance this morning.
The second half began and once again there was no advantage from the wind for either side. The recent rain was taking its toll on the pitch as it was becoming very boggy, especially down the flanks.
Cove keeper Fuller comes off worse in a 50/50 with Shaun Meehan. He was soon back on his feet.
On 55 minutes Progress increased the lead. A corner was headed towards goal and lurking at the far post was Adie Barker to notch his first goal of the season. 2-4.
Barker's arm is aloft at the far post as the ball hits the back of the net.
Get in there !
'Shades' – The Progress linesman.
Meehan wins the header thanks to a cleverly placed arm on the shoulder.
At 4-2 down the Cove had their best spell of the match and played some great passing football. However, they had to start pushing bodies forward and they paid the price as they were caught on the break. Ricky Teasdale was sent clear and as he burst into the box he was scythed down by Danny Holland and referee Ward had little hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Fuller dives the right way but Teasdale's penalty found the bottom corner. 2-5.
Yorkshireman 'Bratford Dave' on the left.
Mr Ward. 'I'd have had a shave if I knew you'd be 'ere'
After a handling error by Teasdale the Cove claimed the ball had crossed the line but referee Ward waved 'play on'.
The fifth goal knocked the stuffing out of the Cove and although they stayed together as a unit without recrimination a few heads dropped. The pitch was enery sapping and the motivation to get back to defend was slipping. Progress were hungry for more and following more good work from O'Loughlin he set up two of his players on the goal line to tap it in for a sixth but both somehow conspired to miss it.
Deano Koster-Baker must score from 12 inches out with an open goal but no – he missed it! The camera never lies.
It wasn't long however until Progress scored again. On 83 minutes Shaun Meehan raced clear and placed it in the bottom tight hand corner. Two minutes later and O'Loughlin recreated exactly the same goal with similar composure. 2-7 and game over.
It's the final whistle.
and Progress are through to the semi-finals.
Final score : Frenchman's Cove FC 2 – 7 Progress Sports & Social FC.
Another disappointing defeat then for the Cove although something of an improvement on last week's result. For an hour they were well in this game but they appeared to tire far quicker than their opponents this morning. In the last half hour they were very heavy legged and cannot complain about the end result.
Like many Division 3 teams they were shaky from set pieces. Three goals followed corners and free kicks and another three were on the break in the final half hour. However, you don't become a bad team overnight and after recently picking up nineteen out of twenty-four points they still have a lot to play for in the league in only their second season. On today's showing they do not deserve to be the league's 'bad boys'. None of them played consistently well for 90 minutes.
A good win for Progress after a ropey opening half an hour in which they conceded two very bad goals. In the end they ran out very comfortable winners and they can now look forward to a semi-final against FC Excelsior who beat Layton Institute Juniors this morning. They're still in with a shout of a league and Cup double but FC Eden will now be hard to catch. The remaining league fixture between the two will be crucial.
Performances of note today from Meehan, O'Loughlin and Roddaway although Mark Gillett was head and shoulders above the rest this morning. He's exactly the sort of player required for this pitch today – a tenacious midfielder who simply wins the ball and gives it one of his own players. He has a high level of fitness which saw him cover every blade of grass whilst cruising through every inch of mud. Too good for 3A. A top performance.