|At Moor Park, Bispham on a cold and frosty morning watching Claremont Cons FC of Division 2A take on Division 2B leaders FC Excelsior in the opening Round of the Division 2Cup.|
Up early this morning to see a thick covering of frost on the ground. With the temperatures at minus stupid it remained to be seen whether or not the required thaw would take place in time to see this morning's game go ahead.
Disappointingly, I also woke up to a Shoutbox full of filth and immature sarcasm from 'Members' and as I've said before when so called members start abusing the Shoutbox then it will be removed altogether. It's a pity that the small minority have spoiled it for the vast majority so I hope they're pleased with themselves. We have about eighty clubs and about seventy-five of them cause no problems whatsoever in the Shoutbox but the minority of clubs (a number of which are in the so called called top Division) and who should know better simply can't help themselves so they can now return to their own websites where they can pass the hours anonymously posting personal insults and foul mouthed diatribe about fellow Sunday footballers and officials.
Although unsure, I don't think these people would post anonymous poison pen letters through peopes' letterboxes and run away or paint personal insults about people on cars or brick walls but they're doing exactly the same on messageboards which believe me points to a severely flawed personality. There is no humour in it – it's just cowardly intimidation with a view to gaining a small psychological advantage in what should be an enjoyable weekend pastime. Speaking of which, running Fyldesport is becoming less and less enjoyable due to all of this purile unpleasantness and if it's no longer enjoyable then at the end of the season my involvement with Fylde Coast Sunday football may cease. We don't expect a pat on the back but when you're trying to do something good and run a professional site and in response you get constant attempts from people to try and destroy it then it's unsurprising that you eventually grow weary of it.
Rant over – Today's featured Division 2 Cup match was scheduled to take place on Pitch 1 at Moor Park which as you may know never sees the sun in the far goalmouth at this time of year but fingers crossed that this pre-match write up will not be in vain as it was last week.
Claremont Cons FC have been a regular feature in Division 2A for the past few seasons finishing fifth, third, eleventh and tenth in the last four seasons. However, they're a much changed team to that which finished third in 2005/06 and over the last couple of seasons they've made quite a few changes on and off the pitch with new players and a different manager.
This rebuilding has resulted in a relatively poor start to the 2008/09 season and although the league table shows them in sixth it paints a false picture as they've played far more games than the six clubs below them. From twelve league games they've only managed to pick up three wins and a draw but last week aside they've shown some signs of improvement. Since beating the Links Hotel 3-0 on October 12th they've narrowly lost twice to in-form Squirrel, drawn 5-5 with Great Eccleston and beaten Rossall Tavern which indicates that they're not too far away from clicking as a good unit.
Last week Mark Campbell's side were beaten 8-1 by Waterloo Sports & Social Club in their worst defeat of the season which although they're a good team was rather worrying. In the Gledhill Cup they received a first round bye before being beaten 5-0 by Division 1 side Northern Care Reserves in Round 2.
They faced another difficult cup tie this morning against Division 2B leaders FC Excelsior. Manager Steve Downing's side are currently two points clear of second placed Fairhaven after winning ten of their opening twelve league matches. They appear to have enjoyed the move to Squires Gate's ground. An early 7-0 midweek home defeat to Paris Casino still irritates but apart from Fleetwood Cricket Club the Casino are still the only team to beat them in league action all season.
In the Gledhill Cup they too received a first round bye and as with the Claremont they were knocked out in Round 2 by Premier Division side Red Rose Catering 9-1.
On paper this looked like a win for the visitors but these Inter Divisional Cup clashes are often unpredictable and with the added dimension of the weather then hopefully we were in for a close and entertaining game.
On arrival at Moor Park many players were making for the exit and I feared for the worst but good news as the featured match had been moved from Pitch 1 to Pitch 4 which was easily playable. This pitch is rarely played on as it's so boggy so it was fully covered with lush geass that helped. This morning's referee was Graham Nixon and he made the correct decision for the game to go ahead and all of the players, officials and the cameraman was in full agreement.
FC Excelsior had a late change into white shirts to avoid the colour clash and at 11:15 we were underway with the whites kicking off.
Claremont Cons FC 2008/09.
FC Excelsior 2008/09.
Referee Mr Nixon with the two captains.
Craig Worrall gets the game underway.
Sean Lonsdale (17) opens the scoring for FC Excelsior.
On their very first move upfield the visitors forced a corner. It was swung over by Mark Lisgo and in the above picture Sean Lonsdale (17) takes advantage of some poor marking to head it home with less than 90 seconds on the watch 1-0.
Claremont manager Mark Campbell looks a little worried.
No WAGS or kids about today but there was a couple of other neutrals watching the action.
Just wide as Excelsior's good start continued.
On 14 minutes Excelsior's Sean Lonsdale raced on to a long through ball but his lob over the onrushing Barratt went well wide. As the half went on Claremont began to settle and started to play some neat passing football on the deck from the back.
The 3B game between Metrostars FC and SPS FC is scheduled for an 11:30 kick off. SPS FC decide to get changed outside in freezing conditions five minutes before kick off.
The sleeve always come in handy.
Claremont forced a couple of corners and in the above picture Excelsior keeper Craig Hunt has to athletically tip it over.
It's so hot !
Referee Mr Nixon.
Craig Worrall (Left) goes close.
FC Excelsior were bossing the first period and enjoying lots of possession but all too often it fizzled out on the opponents 18 yard line through a combination of poor finishing and the incorrect choice of final ball.
Excelsior push for a second.
Richard Cookney (You're still a ginger)
Half time score: Claremont Cons FC 0 – 1 FC Excelsior.
The Devonshire Arms FC contingent spared the trip to Blackburn call in for ten minutes to see some football.
Referee John McNicholas fresh from having to call his game off at Boundary Park oozes style and sophistication on the sidelines.
Excelsior keeper Craig Hunt.
In the second period Claremont Cons came out with a little more self belief and for long periods they looked the better side but as with their opponents they gave the ball away too often in the final third.
Gloves and tights (apologies)
Hopes (Left) is on for Mercer. “I need your shirt mate”.
Another negative about this pitch is the large and deep pond behind the goal which thanks to the woeful finishing of Lonsdale and Worrall had soon accounted for all three of the available match balls in its icy grasp.
This resulted in a 10 minute delay.
Quick – pump up another.
Go and get it Graham.
Surprisingly there wasn't the usual nutter who dives in and gets it so this chap decided to display his resourcefulness in trying to retrieve it.
Got it! Then he just ran off with it and we never saw him or the ball again.
Worrall puts it over the bar.
As we approached the last ten minutes Claremont looked to have given it their all in trying to winckle out an equaliser but as we neared the end Excesior were driving forward in waves and Barratt's goal was coming under more and more pressure.
On 85 minutes Excelsior are in the box. The shot isn't held by Barratt and it goes across goal.
It reaches the feet of Ben Hopes at the far post. What can he do with it?
He cuts inside and smashes it past Newall Barratt. (0-2)
Another Excelsior effort goes over the bar.
Excelsior are denied a third quite correctly by the liners flag. The fella at the far post received a forward pass and although there was a man on the line the keeper was out so there was only one player between the scorer and the goal. Great decision.
Final score: Claremont Cons FC 0 – 2 FC Excelsior.
Whilst there, little did we know that Moor Park was the only venue to host Sunday football in the Fylde this morning but we're glad it was. A good decision by Graham Nixon to rule the pitch fit and he was rewarded with a quiet game. There were no bad tackles and the cards stayed firmly in his pocket.
FC Excelsior won the game as expected but they didn't have it all of their own way against an opposition who made them work for it. Although not at their best this morning FC Excelsior are the first club in the hat for the second round draw. I was impressed with keeper Hunt and although Worrall and Lonsdale had little luck today you can see why they're a dangerous pairing.
As for Claremont they're improving and it's little wonder as they're a decent footballing side who look well organised. They were disadvantaged by not having their best player Ireland available for the contest. Hopefully the Yellows can keep improving and avoid a bottom six finish.
Well done to both sides for an entertaining 90 minutes of Cup football.