|The first visit for fyldesport.com to Ballam Road, Lytham to watch the important Division 2A encounter between Visualise North FC and ward Heating FC. With two games each left to play they were only separated at the top of the table by goal difference. It couldn't be closer.|
Two more Sundays to go in the 2007/08 season and Division 2A couldn't be closer. Three teams are level at the top with fifty points each. Little Fat Jacks FC were in third but today they were playing their final league game against 4th placed Squirrel FC. In addtion the goal difference of LFJ was the lowest of the three title contenders.
With that in mind it's fair to say that the Divisional title is now between this morning's two opponents. Both Visualise North FC and Ward Heating FC have won fifteen, lost five and drawn twice. Visualise North have scored one more goal but the Ward heating defence has conceded nine fewer and it's that statistic that saw them at the top of the table at start of play.
Earlier this month Visualise North FC won the first encounter 2-0 away from home so they had the psychological advantage. With the Division 2 Cup final defeat on penalties still rankling it's been a tough month at the end of a long season for Ward. Could they stay top as they have been for most of the season or would they be overtaken at the final hurdle?
A wet start to the day but it was very mild and flat calm. The Ballam Road surface was soaked and quickly cut up. The referee today was Mark Hughes and at 11am we were underway with Visualise North FC wearing the now famous rasberry strip.
Ward Heating FC captain Nigel Marlow.
Visualise North FC skipper Marlon Bradley.
Referee Mark Hughes.
The Viz bench. That Kells fella (second left) really scares me.
Graham Hutchinson (Left).
Bromley heads it clear.
Martin Ogier (Left) and Martin Marlow.
Kev Beesting (Right)
That's a foul by Daz Dickinson.
Veterans Glen Rogerson (Left) and Wayne Hughes.
Ward Heating FC keeper Lee Bonney.
Half time score : Visualise North FC 0 – 0 Ward Heating FC
Captivating stuff from the first whistle as both teams gave it 110%. The greasy surface made for some fast football and great sliding tackles. As expected Woods (Ward) and Hughes were having a ding dong battle in midfield. The Viz started the better and had more offensive possession but Ward came back strongly and were the better side for the middle quarter of an hour of the first half. Viz finished the half well with Paul 'Smudger' Smith and Wayne Gardiner both missing decent chances.
Young Harry who's often out watching local football at the weekends.
The best chance of the second half as Gardiner, one on one with the keeper gets his shot off but it's well saved by the legs of Bonney.
A good tackle from Hughes who then hangs his foot to take the trailing leg – experience.
Mark Woods (Left)
An off the ball incident.
A strong word from Mr Hughes.
A late headed opportunity for the Viz.
Bromley pushes forward in the hope of a late winner.
Final score : Visualise North FC 0 – 0 Ward Heating FC.
This was British Sunday football at its very, very best. The game had everything apart from goals but on reflection this goalless draw was probably the best Sunday match I've seen this season as it passed in a blur. This match will now be forever known as the 'Battle of Ballam' as both sides hammered it out in the mud and rain each giving 110% for the cause.
Both defences along with the defensive midfielders were superb and reduced four or five of the best strikers in the Division to only a couple of decent chances. Crunching tackles were going on in every area of the pitch but nothing was malicious. Overall, Visualise North FC had the greater share of possession and created lots of corners and crosses but the Ward Heating defence stood solid. At the end the arms of Ward Heating players were aloft but it's too early to celebrate as with one game left for each to play anything can happen. May the best team triumph.
Whatever happens, both sets of warriors as they trudged off the field covered in mud, sweat and bruises with the steam rising off their aching bodies can take great pride in taking the Division 2A title race to the final day of the season. Beers will now be shared and glasses raised by both sides at the forthcoming Layton Institue presentation night.
The battle over it's honours even for Hughes and Woods.