|The village of Wrea Green was this morning's venue. The home side were taking on Blackpool Rangers FC in the Premier Division of the BFSFA out by the duckpond. The teams were facing each other for the first time ever.|
After spending many season's plodding along in the lower Divisions Wrea Green FC finally came good in the 2006/07 campaign when they stormed to the Division 3A title without losing a single league game. They ended up nine points clear of second placed Mythop Leisure FC. They almost made it a league and Cup double but it wasn't to be as Division 3B side Ward Heating FC beat them 1-0 in the Division 3 Cup final at the ground of Blackpool Wren Rovers FC.
The BFSFA was then stunned as the side were promoted directly into the Premier Division. Many, including myself, thought it to be a step too far but in their first season they proved their doubters wrong by having a decent season of consolidation in which they finished ninth after gaining five wins and four draws.
This season, and having played nine games the team are currently in eighth. The manager who had to suffer all of the ups and downs in the Division 3 days, Dennis Halliday, is still in charge. They started the season brilliantly when going six unbeaten. The run included a win against the Devonshire Arms and a draw against Layton Institute. However, they were then hammered 7-0 in Round 3 of the Gledhill Cup by Pulcinellas and haven't won since. Six games without defeat followed by six games without a win. That's Sunday football.
Today's opponents Blackpool Rangers FC were playing their first ever fixture on the famous village green. After joining the BFSFA as a successful junior football side they immediately won promotion when finishing as Division 3B runners up to Progress Property Management FC. The following season they went unbeaten in the league when running away with Division 2A, winning the title by 21 points, one of the biggest winning margins in Sunday football history. Last season they finished runners up in Division 1 behind the Crescent FC. They'd reached the Premier Division after only three seasons losing only two league games along the way. A creditable achievement indeed.
As we near the end of February the team have been beaten only twice in the top Division. Those defeats came against last season's champions Quilligans FC and Poulton FC. They've picked up four wins including notable scalps against Devonshire Arms, Northern Care and Pulcinellas. John Miles' team are going very well in their fist season in the Prem. This morning the team were in sixth with games in hand on four of the five sides above them. They currently have five games in hand on leaders Quilligans with a gap of eleven points. Cup interest this season has been ended by Quilligans who knocked them out of the Gledhill after a replay and last week they were well beaten 4-1 by the same side in the opening round of the Premier Division Cup.
Despite having many players to call upon all too often they've struggled to get more than twelve to turn up on a Sunday morning resulting in the manager having to turn out which isn't good. In addition they've currently been without a recognised keeper in recent weeks.
It's been another dry week across the Fylde Coast this week and the often boggy pitch at Wrea Green was in good condition. It was cold and dry with a light breeze. The referee today was Mr Mark Ayre. Prior to today's match a minutes silence was respectfully observed for Fleetwood marine Daz Smith who was killed by the 'freedom hating' Taleban in the foreign fields of Afghanistan just over a week ago. Wrea Green FC kicked off playing down the slope in their green kit.
Wrea Green FC 2008/09
Blackpool Rangers FC 2008/09. (Joe Booth back row left fed up at not being able to play).
The players, managers and officials observe the minute's silence for Daz Smith
Referee Mark Ayre with the respective captains Dickinson (Right) and Bimpson.
Neil Kirton (Left) in an early tussle with last season's Alliance top scorer Micky Evans.
Referee Mark Ayre
Every red-headed player in Sunday football has the nickname 'Scholesy' – Here's another one.
Wrea Green started very brightly with Evans and Frankle in the faces of the Rangers' defenders from the off. On five minutes they took the lead. Rick Eaves cut in from the right channel and lashed in a shot that Woods could only parry. The busy Frankle was on hand to pounce on the loose ball and fire it home. 1-0.
Craig Frankle puts Wrea Green FC 1-0 up.
'Well up Bimmy'
Tobin goes close for Rangers but a good save by Aidan Ward-Smith.
Wrea Green FC skipper Paul Dickinson.
Ranger's keeper Josh Wood with the punt upfield.
A great chance for Rangers as Floyd gets on the end of a Tobin cross but although he slid the ball undr the keeper it went narrowly wide of the post.
Peter Floyd (Right).
Sunday football at Wrea Green.
The first half was full of incident and an attractive game for the neutral. Both sides had some good spells of pressure but both keepers were in good form and kept their respective opposing strikers at bay. Midway through the half Wrea Green forced a succession of corners. In the video below they again went close. Ranger's manager John Miles great gob wakes up the sleepy village as he berated his defenders.
Wrea Green FC go close from a couple of corners.
On 24 minutes we had controversy. In the above picture Marc Beattie went up for an aerial challenge with the keeper and the ball ended up in the net. Referee Ayre ruled it out as he adjudged that Beattie had headed it out of his hands.
A minute later Ranger's had it in the net again but the ball had already crossed the line for a corner.
Wrea Green FC manager Dennis Halliday – he had no grey hairs when he started this job.
Ward-Smith tips over another Ranger's effort who were now pushing hard for an equaliser.
A nice tree shot, whatever it is.
If anyone was looking for a turning point in this game then perhaps this was it. On 42 minutes Frankle put over a peach of a cross for Micky Evans and looking set to score he was denied by a fantastic point blank save by Woods who palmed it over the bar.
On 44 minutes Rangers equalised. A good move upfield set Tobin free on the right. He beat his man for pace and whipped in a cross for an unmarked Marc Beattie to power his downward header into the net. 1-1. A great first half that could have been 5-5 at the break.
Half time score : Wrea Green FC 1 – 1 Blackpool Rangers FC.
Half time refreshment for Wrea Green FC.
Rangers prepare for the second half.
A disastrous start to the second period for Wrea Green FC. A long ball upfield sent Floyd clear. The keeper was quickly out to the edge of the box but his clearance hit Floyd who continued on, hit the post from three yards before thankfully for him bundling it over the line. 1-2. Too late for a prayer Rick.
Blackpool Rangers FC captain Sean Bimpson.
The hallowed village green begins to cut up badly.
Good challenge out by the sideline. Get stuck in.
On 55 minutes it was all but game over. Another long ball upfield was horribly misjudged by a Wrea Green defender. Marc Beattie gratefully took it on at pace before smashing a right foot shot past the keeper low from the edge of the box – class finish. 1-3.
Beattie celebrates – he wasn't happy that the camera missed it.
Ranger's manager John Miles talks about possible substitutions with assistant paul. 'I think I'll bring Ellis Casson on' for the last fifteen minutes.
A good decision as yet another ball over the top from Lee Tobin wasn't dealt with and the youngster beats Ward-Smith to the ball to flick it into the net. 1-4.
Wrea Green continued to go forward and there were no signs of heads dropping. On 78 minutes Woods pulled off another good save to tip a fierce effort over the bar.
Good pace from the number seven.
On 83 minutes Casson had his second. He takes control of a pass inside before hitting a lowdrive goalbound. His shot takes a fortuitous bounce on the way that bamboozles the keeper. 1-5.
Beattie's up for it.
'See you later.'
On 90 minutes Ellis Casson (8) receives an unselfish square pass before making no mistake for his fifteen minute hat-trick.
Game over and handshakes all around.
Final score : Wrea Green FC 1 – 6 Blackpool Rangers FC
This was a very entertaining game that was enjoyed by spectators and curious passers by respectively. Well refereed by Mr Ayre. The scoreline didn't reflect the game. Don't get me wrong, Rangers deserved to score six and maybe more but Wrea Green's offensive play deserved far more than the one goal they notched up.
A memorable first half full of goalmouth incident saw the score level at half time mainly thanks to some great saves by both keepers. In the second period Wrea Green were still fast asleep when Floyd scored and when Beattie scored his second there was little chance of a fight-back. Craig Frankle was outstanding in the first half for Wrea Green and there were further performances of note from Scholesy, Dickinson and Evans.
At the back they play a high defensive line but when they watch Match of the Day they'll see that they were vulnerable throughout to pacy strikers when going backwards from the halfway line through a boggy pitch.
As for Rangers they maintained their patience through the long period in the first half when the goal wouldn't come. Even without talisman Chris Cairns and Joe Booth they have a lot of talent in the squad. Tobin and Beattie create so many opportunities throughout the game that they're always going to create good goal-scoring chances. If they can get their best team out every week then they still have a chance of the title.
Excellent performances this morning from Lee Tobin who created many of the goals, Sean Bimpson in the centre and Floyd upfront. Casson's fifteen minute goal blitz showed his class in front of goal. Woods in goals looked competent throughout. Today's Man of the Match went to Marc Beattie. He's had a long spell of injuries and suspensions but today he looked to be back to his best. His great work-rate on a sticky energy sapping pitch showed that he's now back to full fitness and his confidence in front of goal is returning. He was unfortunate not to score a couple more this morning.
This week's winner of the Teamsport90 Man of the Match award – Blackpool Rangers FC's Marc Beattie.