Sportspy Reports – Sunday October 19th 2008.

Today saw Round 3 of the Lancashire Sunday Trophy and at Blackpool Road, St Annes the Waterloo Hotel FC (1) were hosting Chorley side Bay Horse (Chorley) FC whilst two of our local sides Halfway House FC (1) and Northern Care FC (Prem) were meeting in the same competition.

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First up were supposed to be the Waterloo Hotel FC who were hosting the Bay Horse FC of the Chorley Nissan Sunday Football League.  However, on arrival neither club was anywhere to be seen.  It turned out that they'd arranged a noon kick off but forgot to inform the league.

Not the end of the world as it allowed me to concentrate on the 'All Alliance' affair between the Halfway House FC of Division 1 and Northern Care FC of the Prem.  Since gaining promotion from 2A at the end of last season Halfway House have settled quickly in the higher Division and at start of play they sat proudly at the top of the table after having taken fifteen points from the first eighteen.  Northern Care FC have had a poor start, they'd only managed one win from the last five and were already out of the Gledhill after being beat by 2A side Squirrel. 

A good number of the players from both sides have a lot of history between them.  They've either played for the same Saturday/Sunday teams in the past or in many cases a lot of them are still heavily involved with AFC Blackpool.  Today saw them on different sides with lots of individual battles to look forward too.  It was always going to be a fiery encounter and so it proved.  The young referee Leigh Doughty from Kirkham was probably completely unaware of these additional factors but he was to find out as the match progressed.  Mild, breezy and dry this morning with the pitch in decent condition.

Halfway House FC 2008/09.

Northern kicked off towards Blackpool Road and right from the off we were in for a fast flowing match with tons of incident all over the pitch.

Paul Carroll.

On seven minutes Northern went close.  Eddleston's shot was well blocked by Gregor and Paul Carrol's low drive flew inches past the far post.

Terry Green.

Marvin Wood.

Mark Ashall.

On ten minutes the Halfway took the lead.  Gardiner's pace and body strength took him first to the ball past Wood out on the right edge of the box.  He took the ball in, looked up and played the perfect pass for strike partner Matt Derby who gratefully thumped it home at the far post.  1-0.

On 14 minutes Dave Cram's excellent free kick into the breeze struck a post and just went wide.

David Cram.

Ben Waddington.

Tim Kinley (Left) and Lewis Cooke.

On 25 minutes Northern keeper Jamie Cooke pulled off one of the saves of the day as a cracking 20 yard dipping goal-bound effort from Matt Derby had to be tipped over the bar.

Moments later Waddington's pace took him on to the long ball and with the keeper advancing he dinked it past him but again it scraped the outside of the post and went away to safety.

Matt Derby goes in hard on keeper Cooke which resulted in an altercation.  We then had five minutes of arguing between the pair as to who was the 'bigger'.

Northern continue to press as Steve Gibson's decent header goes close but over the bar.

Halfway skipper Gavin Hughes picks up a needless booking for booting the ball away – It was to prove costly.

The Northern Care contingent watch on.

“AWAY !!!!!”

Gibson shields the ball.

Martin Ogier.

Half time score :  Halway House FC 1 – 0 Northern Care FC.

The Waterloo Hotel FC turn up at last proudly showing off their new training tops courtesy of Teamsport90 and after Lee O'Neil won the recent penalty competition.

Northern Care FC supporter Kyle Housley.

Northern Care FC started the second half looking the more dangerous and with the slight advantage of the wind behind them.  However, on 52 minutes a Mark Ashall header for Halfway was cleared off the line by Watt.

Ashall's header is cleared away.

Good block.

Two minutes later a Terry Green free-kick was half headed clear.  The ball was crossed back into the danger area and in the ensuing scramble only desperate last ditch blocks and tackles maintained the Halway House slender lead.

Will Watt (Right) tries to get around Wayne Gardiner.

On 63 minutes the Northern Care equaliser finally came with what will probably go down as one of the best goals of the season.  Another cross into the box was headed high and clear burt lurking on the edge of the area was Dave Cram.  He showed both composure and fantastic technical ability as he hit the dipping, spinning ball on the volley and it went like a bullet into the top corner.  1-1.

Cram's superb volley finds the top corner.  (Sporty on the spot!)

Sometimes good goals can have a disturbing effect on a player.  Older viewers may remember that mad Newcastle player Ketsbaia kicking hell out of the advertising boardings after scoring an important goal and Cram lost it in a similar fashion by smacking the ball back towards the keeper whilst gloating shamelessly.

'Pick that one out' yells Kenny.

Cram's over-enthusiastic goal celebration is too much to take for Gav Hughes as tempers boiled over resulting in much pushing and shoving.

“Easy ref, we're good pals really”

Too late – Hughes is off for a second bookable offence.

Straight red for Cram following his Ketsbaia moment.

Calming down.

Derby picks up a yellow for a touchline barging.

William Watt.

Five minutes later and all hell broke loose.  With emotions still running high the Halfway House introduced substitute Danny King.  I think they must have been starving him of meat because less than forty seconds later his match was over.  A lunging tackle on Marvin Wood looked to have injured the latter quite badly.  No doubt the ref would have sent King off but on rushed twenty other referees to try and do his job.  It's easier said than done when it comes to controlling emotions in a game like this but the tackle came at just the wrong moment.  Terry Green intervened and he was also sent off.  It looked as though we may have faced an abandonment but the referee restored order and we eventually continued with nine-a-side.

They're off!

Marvin Wood lies prone.

No need for a shower.

It's red for Green.

Martin Cardwell.

Gavin Hughes.

Back to the football and after order was restored there was no further unpleasantness.  Matt Derby wriggled clear in the box and had an excellent chance to seal it but Cooke pulled off a great save at the forward's feet.

With about six minutes left (I'd lost track of time) Northern Care FC grabbed a dramatic late winner.  A through ball found Waddington on the left edge of the box.  There were cries for off-side and Joe Hulme had raised a flag but the referee waved play on.  Waddington cut inside and showed an example of his fast increasing maturity when instead of shooting he unselfishly laid it square into the path of Gibson who did well to slot it home.  1-2.

Steve Gibson scores the winner for Northern Care FC.

The final whistle goes, “Well played mate, see you at training on Tuesday”.

Final score : Halfway House 1 – 2 Northern Care FC.

For just over an hour this was a great game of football and as expected it was hard but honest.  Halfway House had been in good form and today was a very important game for Northern Care after recent disappointments.  It's a pity it was somewhat spoiled by four red cards and five yellows.

Regular readers of 'Sportspy Reports' over the last four seasons will know that sending off's and mass brawls are thankfully very rare so we should keep things in perspective.  Today's ugly scenes were more down to mates trying to get one over on each other rather than long held grudges but that's little excuse. 

For Halfway House Gardiner won the battle against Carroll today as the diminutive striker was very dangerous especially in the first half.  At the other end Cram and Waddington look to be a decent pairing with the former appearing to get better in every game he plays.  Good performances for AFC Blackpool this season have helped improve his composure and temper.  Ashall and Hughes v Wood and Gibson was always going to be interesting and so it proved.  Good luck to Northern Care FC and the rest of our survivors in Round 4.

The last word for the young referee Leigh Doughty.  Few, if any would have fancied officiating in this one and he probably had little idea about the added factors between the teams.  Throughout the match he never wavered and being a young lad few would have blamed him for throwing in the towel and abandoning the match when the big brawl took place but he took his time and sorted them out and when it carried on there was no more aggro.  Maybe a local ref wouldn't have sent off Hughes and Cram but everyhing else was spot on in my book.

“I put my flag up and you didn't give it!”   “What kind of goal celebration was that?”

The only place this morning where the dummies were not spat out and where the toys stayed firmly in the pram.  Northern Care FC triplet supporters.

………and still time to see Quilligans FC get knocked out at Collins Park.

Sportspy 2008/09

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