|There were many big games across the Fylde Coast this morning in both league and Cup but Sunday football wouldn't exist without teams who simply turn out for the love of the game. This morning at Commonedge Road the bottom club in the Alliance, SPS FC, were taking on Metrostars FC looking for only their third win of the season.|
As we near the end of another harsh Fylde Coast winter the Sunday football season enters its final phase with many teams still fancying their chances of picking up honours across the various leagues and Cup competitions. Whilst the medals and plaudits end up in the deserved hands of the few the majority of Sunday footballers end up with nothing but memories of approximately thirty hard fought games played in all kinds of foul weather on pitches more befitting of the Somme. Winning and drawing more than you lose is perhaps the most the majority of clubs can hope for.
For a small number of clubs each season constant defeat combined with the rain and mud is too much to bear and they fall by the wayside like weary soldiers in battle. Next Sunday sees the final Sunday of the winter. If you've been with us since August through to February and you're playing for a club in the bottom six of your Division with few points on the board then at least take heart that you're a real man and ultimately a better person. (It's a bit flowery this week).
John Chapman's SPS FC are one such club. Every season, a club has to finish bottom of the BFSFA and at this stage it very much looks like it will either be SPS FC or St Annes FC who end up with the wooden spoon. Whatever happens they at least can take some consolation that they're not the worst. In the 2004/05 season AFC Moghul finished bottom without a win and with only two draws to their name. In the following season the Tesco Sports & Social Club FC finished bottom with only one win and three points.
SPS FC are mainly a 'works team' from the Printing firm on the Squires Gate Industrial Estate who simply turn up for the love of the game. They intend to keep the playing staff 'in house' rather than recruiting outsiders but this becomes more difficult as time goes by. They started their career in the Blackpool & Fylde Sunday Alliance with eleven straight defeats which included a 13-0 pasting by the Fleetwood Car Centre in the second Round of the Gledhill after they'd received a first round bye. They had to wait until October 19th to record their first win which came after they beat Real Burlington FC 2-1 away from home. Losing 10-2 and 13-1 to title favourites FC Matrix only temporarily reduced their enthusiasm as did a recent 13-1 hammering by Automedon FC. Last time out they were beaten 8-0 by Pulcinellas Reserves FC. As previously stated their rivals for the wooden spoon are St Annes FC. Earlier in the season they lost 8-0 to them but back in November they took revenge when picking up only their second win of the season thanks to a 4-3 victory. In the opening round of the Division 3 Cup they were knocked out 3-1 by C&G Electrical FC.
Today's opponents were Chris Paul's Metrostars FC who'd beaten them 4-1 back in December. Metrostars FC are competing in their third season of Sunday football and once again they face another season on the bottom rung in 2009/10. In their first season they finished in eleventh and last season they took a step backwards in finishing in twelfth. This season has at last seen signs of improvement, especially in defence. This morning's league table showed the club in seventh and a strong finish could possibly see them finish as high as fifth which if recent history is anything to go by may be good enough to get them a place in Division 3A. Last season the team scored sixty-four goals which was only two less than Layton Institute Juniors who finished in fourth. However, the eighty-seven thay they conceded at the other end was not far off four per game which isn't good enough if you're to climb out of this difficult division.
In the run up to Christmas they picked up ten points from twelve in a decent run but the new year has seen a dip in form. After a first round bye they too were knocked out in the second round 4-1 by the now defunct CTK FC. In the first round of the Divisional Cup they knocked out St Annes FC on penalties but last week they were eliminated in Round 2 by one of the favourites Foulds Metals FC 4-2. A new sponsorship deal is supposedly in the offing with Poulton Kebab shop 'The Best' which will see the club renamed as 'Metrostars 'The Best' FC' so an overall improvement in form is hastily required if they're to live up to their new name.
It's been another very cold but generally dry week along the Coast this week. There was rain in the air at Commonedge Road this morning with a bit of a breeze but it was thankfully a little milder than late. The overcast conditions were not conducive to the best of photographs. SPS FC had moved to Commonedge after having had a number of postponements at Cottam Hall. The referee today was once again Mr Matk Bates (I'm stalking him) who I expect was in for a reasonably easy game with both of these sides currently in the top three of the Division's Fair Play table. At 11:04am we were underway with Metrostars FC in the black and red kicking off towards the cricket club.
SPS FC 2008/09.
'Ten men' Metrostars FC 2008/09.
Referee Mark Bates flanked by captains Greg Paul (Left) and Graham Arnold.
SPS FC keeper Andy Threlfall keeps his eye on the ball. (It wouldn't last).
Seamus McDermott (Yes, he's Irish)
The Chapman brothers. John (Left) and Ian (Right).
Crowded penalty box.
SPS FC player manager John Chapman.
Dave Woodcock (Left)
The sliding tackle calls for evasive action.
SPS FC are an example to all Sunday football teams. Although at the bottom of the league they had fifteen men warming up at 10:40 raring to go. In contrast, their opponents Metrostars looked a disorganised rabble with little sign of any of them until about 10:50. Only ten of them could be bothered to turn up this morning and manager Chris Paul was sick. The rest were apparently wooing WAGS on Valentine's weekend with no sense of priority. As a result we only had one linesman.
Metrostars started well and had the advantage of the cold South Westerly wind. They fortuitiously took the lead on ten minutes when a Phil Dilworth pass back was horribly missed by keeper Andy Threlfall and the ball bobbled onwards and into the net. 0-1.
SPS keeper Andy Threlfall retrieves the ball from the back of the net after his error had gifted Metrostars the lead.
SPS FC top scorer Tom Neill on the ball.
Metrostars FC keeper Danny Clifford.
Referee Mark Bates.
SPS's Liam Giles – apparently better looking and a better footballer than his Uncle…
A good save from Clifford down at the near post keeps SPS at bay.
Liam Giles equalises for SPS FC
On 25 minutes SPS FC persistence paid off. A fast flowing move upfield and a good interchange of passes set the winger free on the right hand side. A dangerous cross into the box was spilled by Clifford and Liam Giles showed good composure in waiting for the ball to drop before volleying it in. 1-1.
SPS FC celebrate the equaliser.
The SPS FC support is thrilled
On 37 SPS FC had a big shout for a penalty. They were claiming for a handball in the box but referee Bates ruled that it hit the shoulder. Ian Chapman's overenthusiastic protestations resulted in admonishment from the official.
Chairman Nigel Hough consults the fixture list to see who's playing where.
Not the ideal time for the referee to be giving his dog some exercise.
Half time score : SPS FC 1 – 1 Metrostars FC
Bloomfield Vets FC regular supporters including emergency substitute on the left.
The second period begins.
Looking for the gap.
Lining up for an SPS FC free kick
Live video of the chance.
The SPS bench including Steve Gill (Left) and Saj Patel (Centre) await their opportunity to join in the action.
On 54 minutes SPS FC took the lead. Metros' claimed the ball had gone out on the touchline but they were wrong. Tom Neil took it to the by-line, swung it across and in the above picture Josh Crook (out of picture right) leapt to head it home. 2-1
'Keepers ball !'
SPS could only hold on to the lead for a few minutes. A rare break upfield fell nicely for Nick Cannon and he smashed it past Threlfall in the above picture to bring the scores level.
Metro's keeper Clifford spills another cross but this time he got away with it.
On 76 Metro's took the lead. A long throughball held up in the wind. The usually reliable Threlfall came to clear but hopelessly failed to connect. Adam Bush pounced on the free gift and slotted it home. 2-3.
Deep into added time SPS FC grabbed a dramatic late equaliser. A throw in from the right wasn't dealt with and the ball fell to the impressive Giles who's shot on the turn sailed over Clifford and into the net sparking jubilant scenes. 3-3.
Liam Giles' shot beats Clifford in the Metrostar's goal to make it 3-3. it was to be the last action of the game.
Agony for Metrostars as their players fall to the ground in dismay after Giles' last gasp equaliser.
Final score : SPS FC 3 – 3 Metrostars FC
This match was a great advert for lower league Fylde Coast Sunday Football and the outcome was anybody's guess until the final whistle. The lead changed three times and we had a last minute equaliser.
Few, if any would have denied SPS FC at least a point this morning. They're not as bad as they think they are and are just short of confidence. You can see it in players when opponents equalise or take the lead that there's a sense of, 'Here we go again' but to be fair they stuck at it today and there was a growing sense of collective self-belief. A good effort from the Chapman brothers and Liam Giles impressed with his work rate, running off the ball and two quality goals. Phil Dilworth at the back won a lot of ball, showed composure and thoughtful distribution and worked tirelessly throughout and these were the reasons he was awardeed the Teamsport90 Man of the Match award.
A disappointing day for Metrostars FC who still thought they would win today despite having only ten players. In reality, they were rather fortunate to take a point. They created little in the second half and were gifted two of their goals. Credit to the ten men that showed. They had to work hard to get the point and almost went away with all three. Could do better.
A good performance from Woodcock at the back.
The Teamsport90 Man of the Match Award winner Phil Dilworth with the prize football and famous trophy.