|Out watching the second round Gledhill Cup tie between Highfield Social FC (2A) and Real Burlington FC (3B) at the ground of Blackpool Wren Rovers. Current form suggested the possibility of an upset. A tough looking home tie against either the Crescent FC or Waterloo Sports & Social FC would be the reward for the winners.|
A glorious morning for today's second round Gledhill Cup tie at the ground of Blackpool Wren Rovers with light winds, blue skies and warm temperatures – a pleasant change from the recent wet weather.
In my pre-season predictions I tipped home side Highfield Social to do well this season in Division 2A but they've got off to a poor start having lost all three of their opening league matches in which they've only managed to score once. The league table shows them in thirteenth place just ahead of bottom club Inkmasters. It was Inkmasters that provided the only highlight of the season so far when Highfield beat them 9-1 away in the opening round of this competition. Highfield and manager Chris Pickering would no doubt be grateful for this diversion from the league programme hoping that they could get their season back on track thanks to another Cup win.
Opponents Real Burlington FC came into the match full of confidence. They're a new side in the BFSFA for 2008/09 and it's a case of so far so good for Chris Hodgson's men. They've taken maximum points from their opening two matches and despite only playing twice due to weather etc they're handily placed in sixth place with games in hand on the teams above them. However, it's still too early to get carried away. Both of those league wins have come against sides struggling at the wrong end of the table. This morning's match represented a huge step up in class and a win for the new Division 3B outfit would have represented one of the major shocks of the round.
The pitch was in great condition despite yesterday's 3-1 Cup win by Blackpool Wren Rovers. Today's referee was Mr Bascombe and his whistle got the Cup tie underway in first class conditions five minutes early with Highfield in the blue defending the changing block end.
Highfield Social FC 2008/09
Real Burlington FC 2008/09
Dunes Hotel landlord Jimmy Drinkwater in goals for Real Burlington.
Matt Hindle shields the ball.
Drinkwater tips it around the post for a corner.
The home side started much the brighter with strikers Hughes and Slater seeing a lot of early ball. On six minutes Drinkwater was saved by his post as Slater shot rebounded back off the upright. A minute later and as shown above only a diving save from the Burlies keeper kept them out. It was no surprise when Highfield finally opened the scoring on nine minutes. Hughes dribbled the ball into the box at pace, beat a couple of defenders and then took it around the keeper to score a fine individual goal. 1-0.
Steve Hughes (Far right) puts the Social ahead.
Reluctant Highfield keeper Pete Croasdale having to step in for the injured Brooks.
'Big Boothy' towers above his opponent.
Mr Bascombe perfectly positioned.
On 24 minutes Highfield increased their lead. A great run at pace from Robbie Slater took him to the edge of the box, he layed it out wide for Craig who's whipped cross was unfortunately but expertly headed past his own keeper by Burlie's Rick Jones. 2-0.
Jones (Right) scores a wonderful OG past Drinkwater.
The keeper still manages to see the funny side of it.
More poor marking by the Burlie's defence leaves Slater clear at the far post but his volley flew well wide.
Burlington manager Chris Hodgson reflects as his team are under the cosh.
Midway through the half the Burlington at last began to settle down and started playing with a little more confidence. They created their first real opportunity on 26 minutes when a good effort had to be desperately cleared off the line by the Highfield defence. Unlucky.
Snowy's down injured after unusually coming off worse in a full blooded 50-50 challenge.
Highfield Social manager Chris Pickering.
On 36 minutes the Burlington pulled a goal back. A neat pass sent Ryan Long clear into the box and he calmly slotted it past the onrushing Croasdale with his left foot. 2-1. Game on.
Ryan Long scores Real Burlington FC's first ever Gledhill Cup goal.
Just say No
On 43 minutes with the half time whistle fast approaching Highfield regained their two goal advantage. Once again it was Steve Hughes who twisted and turned inside the box before rifling home his second of the match across the keeper and into the net at the far post. 3-1. Just before the whistle the Burlington almost scored a second when Mark Webster's snapshot from six yards flashed across Croasdale's net but wide of the far post.
Steve Hughes (Far right) makes no mistake from six yards as he scores his second and Highfield's third.
Foul ref ! Not given.
Half time score : Highfield Social FC 3 – 1 Real Burlington FC
A much needed half time drink.
Steve Baines (Cap) in the background. After celebrating his 40th last night he wasn't available for selection.
The attempted block did enough to force the Burlie's player to hit it high over the bar.
Real Burlington FC keeper Jimmy Drinkwater.
Good conditions at last.
Steve Hughes in full flight.
Headed off the line as the Highfield threaten from a corner.
The first thirty minutes of the second half were pretty awful as it appeared the warm weather was having a debilitating effect on the players resulting in some turgid football. It looked as though it was heading for a 3-1 win but on 76 minutes the Burlington were right back in it. Jamie Nay took the ball into the box, moved the ball on to his right foot, created some space and hammered it low and hard into the far corner past Croasdale. 3-2.
The aftermath of Jamie Nay's goal.
Unfortunately for Burlington Highfield made it 4-2 almost from the re-start. Steve Hughes broke clear and looked dead certain to score his hat-trick but his shot rebounded back off the post leaving Slater the simplest of tasks to knock it home from two feet. 4-2.
The 3B outfit showed great spirit and as they quickly shrugged off the setback of Highfield's speedy response and scored again on 80 minutes this time through Mikey Nay in the above picture.
Burlington with little to lose pushed bodies forward in search of an equaliser. They had a great chance to equalise as an unmarked player got on the end of a great cross but he headed agonisingly wide with the goal at his mercy.
Croasdale's praying but the Burlie's player heads it wide (He'll have restless night after that miss). Highfield wasted a few minutes by the corner flags but hung on for a hard fought win.
Final score: Highfield Social FC 4 – 3 Real Burlington FC
In summary this was a decent Cup tie played in a great spirit. An easy game for Mr Bascombe who had little use for his whistle thanks to an absence of free kicks. Highfield made hard work of this morning's win but did enough to go through to Round 3 where Premier Division outfit the Crescent FC await them. They missed the guile of Chettle today but scored three decent goals. Hopefully, that win will see a change of early season fortune in the league.
A great effort today from Real Burlington. Every credit to the 3B outfit for making a great fist of it. They certainly had their opponents worried in the final ten minutes. They have good defenders who unsurprisingly are still yet to gel together. They like to play a high line but the pace of Slater unsettled them and on occasion they lose collective concentration leaving players in acres of space. The forwards played well displaying some deadly finishing in the box. On this performance they'll only get better and I wouldn't be surprised to see them finish in the top six come next April. Booth, Blow and Jamie Nay all caught the eye.
Our good friends at kit and equipment suppliers Teamsport90 have kindly given us 50 footballs to give away as well as some high quality trophies enabling me to present the worthy candidate with a Teamsport90/Sportspy Man of the match. Today's choice was Highfield Social FC striker Steve Hughes who with two goals and an assist was the main difference between the sides. He terrorised the Burlie's defence throughout showing good vision, skill, composure and great finishing.
The inaugural winner of the 'Sporty' as well as a decent football the Teamsport90 Man of the match – Steve Hughes.