Sportspy Reports – Thursday April 17th 2008.

The ground of Blackpool Wren Rovers FC was the venue for this season's Premier Division Cup final between Northern Care FC and Red Rose Catering FC.  At half time we also had the penalty shoot-out competition between the respective Divisional winners of the Fair Play league.  Cold and damp once again.

This was the third of this season's Divisional Cup finals.  The Division 1 Cup takes place at the same venue next Sunday (20th) between Fylde Coast Gates FC and CTK FC.

As for tonight's teams Red Rose Catering FC have once again their fine Cup credentials.  In the 2004/05 season they won the Division 2 Cup when beating the Dunes 2-0.  The following season they beat Layton Institute FC to win the Division 1 Cup.  Last season they reached the Gledhill Cup final where they unluckily lost on penalties to Quilligans FC.  They also reached the fianl of the Premier Division Cup where late season burn out finally caught up with them as they lost 3-0 to Poulton.

This season they're back again looking to make up for last season's disappointment in both finals.  The league campaign has been mixed for Andy Manning's side.  After picking up nine points from the first twelve things looked good but either side of Christmas form completely collapsed as they went on a run of seven straight defeats.  Finally things turned around and prior to last week's 6-0 defeat to their opponents this evening they were unbeaten in five.  The side still have a chance of a top six finish.  In order to reach tonight's final they've had to put out Highfield Social, Golden Eagle and Wrea Green.

With two games left to play Northern Care FC occupy runners up spot but realistically they're one of four sides still in with a chance of finishing second.  Overall, it's been a decent season for Gary Colling's squad.  Only Quilligans (Twice), Poulton and Layton have thus far managed to beat them.  A win in tonight's final would put the icing on the cake and make a sound platform for a major challenge for the main prize of the league title next season.

A side bristing with talent and experience we're still to see the very best of them.  Although the side were fortunate to receive a bye in Round 1 their luck soon ran out with two difficult Cup draws against Quilligans and Layton Institute.  Against Quilligans they ended the team's long unbeaten run at Collins Park with a famous 2-0 win and a few week's ago they came out on top in a 3-2 thriller against Layton at Boundary Park.

Northern Care's 6-0 league win against Red Rose has certainly given them the psychological edge in this final especially when considering that Northern also took three points off them in the first league match back in November.  However, as we saw in the Division 3 Cup final last Sunday league form counts for little in Cup finals.

Tonight's referee was Mr Lee Willett's who's been receiving positive comments from many teams in recent matches.  His assistants this evening were Paul Tuffy and Rick Parr. 

Northern Care FC

Red Rose Catering FC

Rick Parr, Lee Willetts and Paul Tuffy.

Poor photo's tonight I'm afraid due to the gloomy conditions.  More maybe added tomorrow.

Brief match summary

Red Rose Catering FC bossed the first half from start to finish.  They won almost all of the loose ball and were good in the air.  Northern were knocked out of their rhythm, gave the ball away too often and hardly created a decent opportunity.  It was no more than Red Rose Catering deserved when James Bullen headed home off the underside of the bar deep into first half injury time.  The lead should have been greater.

Straight from the off Northern were much improved in the second period.  On 49 minutes the outside of Terry Green's right boot sent Ben waddington racing clear.  He displayed pace, determination, strength and composure to win the race for the ball, shrug off two defenders and flick it past the advancing Smith. 1-1.

Nine minutes later and Northern were ahead.  Green passed it out wide for Gibson who's cross was missed by the defender but Adie Hunt controlled well before smacking it home 2-1.

Shortly after the goal Terry Green was replaced due to injury.  Northern completely lost their shape and found themselves playing deeper and deeper.  Red Rose came more and more into the game and on 80 minutes Anthony Kosakiewicz rose unmarked to head home after a great spell.  Red Rose finished the stronger and could have nicked it.

Into extra time and on 98 minutes a hopeful diagonal ball wasn't dealt with by the Red Rose defence.  It travelled all the way to the far post where Hunt was first to it.  His pass/shot across goal was met by veteran Andy Hill who rolled it over the line.  3-2.  Just before the break Will Watt's shot from distance hit the bar for Northern.

In the second period Red Rose came strong again and Northern were on the back foot.  Red Rose couldn't make the breakthrough and almost got caught on the break for a fourth when Hunt fired over when one on one with the keeper.

Northern held on to win.  In front of a big crowd this was a decent well contested match on a cold wintry evening in which Red Rose were once again unlucky in a third successive losing final.  Well done to Northern Care who beat three decent teams to lift the famous Cup.  Gibbo was my man of the match and referee Willetts was decisive in the middle.  Congratulations to Gary Collings and all at Northern Care on winning the Premier Division Cup.

Final score :  Northern Care FC 3 – 2 Red Rose Catering FC (AET)

Winner of the half time 'Fair Play' league winner's penalty prize competition. John Almond of Jacks FC (2A) scored five out of five to see off representatives from Northern Care (Prem), Northern Care Reserves (1), Pulcinellas (2B), Ansdell (3A) and Stable Bar (3B).  John went home

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