|Boundary Park, Blackpool was this morning's venue where Layton Institute FC of the Premier Division were taking on Division 1 side Ward Heating FC in the quarter-final of this season's Gledhill Cup competition. Who would make it through to the semis?|
Last season Layton Institute FC finished as runners up in the BFSFA behind runaway champions Quiiligans. This season, and despite having eight games left they'll struggle to finish in the top six having won only three of their opening twelve matches and two of those were against the bottom club Crescent FC. On the positive side they drew 2-2 with Quilligans and beat Northern Care. Other big games have been close and on a number of occasions they've been unfortunate to have lost by the odd goal to the Devonshire Arms, Pulcinellas and Blackpool Rangers. Since returning to the Premier Division in the 2006/07 season after a brief departure following relegation manager Stuart Todd has now re-established his side in the top Division. Layton have reached the last eight of this famous competion by knocking out Fleetwood Cricket Club (Round 2), The Shovels after a replay (Round 3) and FC Gretone (Round 4).
If Layton were to achieve a place in the semi-final they'd have to get past today's opponents Ward Heating FC. Last season's Division 2A champions also have a decent Divisional Cup record in recent seasons having won the Division 3 Cup in 2006/07 and as losing finalists in last season's Division 2 Cup. They've also reached the semi-finals of this season's Division 1 Cup. However, this is the first season they've got past the opening Round in the Gledhill. The Division 1 league table shows them in second this morning but despite being the Division's top form side over the last eleven matches in which they've gained eight wins and three draws they look destined to finish in third as they only have one game left to play. Having failed to beat both Fylde Coast Gates and Halfway House manager Mick Hutchinson can have no complaints. Ward Heating's quarter-final place has been gained by knocking out Bar 19 FC (Round 2), FC Matrix (Round 3) and Hydronics FC (Round 4).
These two sides faced each other last season in Round 2 of this competition and on that day Layton ran out 2-0 winners. Yet again, it's been another rain free week across the Fylde Coast. In recent season's the quarter-finals of the Gledhill have been played on muddy pitches in rain-swept November gales so it's a good committee decision in my opinion to have put them back to March. Dry, cool and relatively calm on the Grange this morning. Today's referee was John Hay and at 10:57am Ward kicked off in their blue and white striped strip.
Institute keeper Greg Bird in the pink
Marvin Kane is in trouble with Mr Hay.
Scott McCabe is flattened.
Barney Woolcock – Man with the flag for Ward Heating
No rain for a fortnight and the Boundary park pitches are getting dusty.
Alex Jebb. Braveheart in the background turns on the charm.
Meehan & Marlow (Right)
Brett Baker shields the ball well.
Ward Heating keeper Dave Snowden
Lee McCabe and Graeme Hutchinson (Right)
Gilly gets a good talking to from the ref.
Along with a bit of good natured stick from the home support.
Like a chameleon – BFSFA registration secretary Dennis Peters uses camouflage to blend into his surroundings.
There were very few chances of note in the first half. Layton's only opportunities came from long throws and corners whilst at the other end Greg Bird safely dealt with the few crosses Ward managed to get into the box.
Half time score : Layton Institute FC 0 – 0 Ward Heating FC
Ward manager Mick Hutchinson (Right) rallies his troops at half time.
A couple of swingers
'I think that's enough don't you?' Back inside for a warm.
McNicholas receives last minute instructions from manager Stuart Todd.
'When you're ready liner'
Well held again by Greg.
Referee John Hay.
Well tipped over as Meehan waits to pounce.
When you get to a certain age and the ball flies at pace towards you it's best to move smartly to one side and let the young people go and fetch it. The alternative is to try and roll back the years and trap it. This fella failed hilariously as the ball bounced hard and hit him straight in the 'Albert Halls'. Not a lot of sympathy from the lady in the background and quite right too.
The second half went very much the way of the first with both midfields on top. Mark Meehan had his usual long range effort which was unfortunate to crash back off the bar and at the other end Bradley Gill unleashed a rocket that flew past the upright.
On 85 minutes Layton Institute finally broke the deadlock. Todd had introduced Lee Catlow as an out an out striker and he had an almost immediate impact. Tony Swallow twisted and turned down the left before patiently awaiting his moment to whip in a cross. Catlow won the battle at the far post and headed home to send the decent sized crowd into raptures.
Ward Heating came back strong and pushed men forward. Substitute Woolcock almost levelled it when his shot hit a post. They also created a couple of corners and when was cleared upfield by Mark Meehan Ward were left short at the back. Catlow's pace took him to the ball ahead of the keeper and his brave left footed effort crept over the goal-line from thirty yards out. Game over.
Catlow out-jumps Marvin at the far post to head Layton into the lead. 1-0.
Substitute Barney Woolcock (Left hidden) almost equalises for Ward Heating but his shot hit the post.
Catlow (Out of picture) wins the race for the ball and seals Layton's semi-final place with his second goal.
Lee Catlow (Right)
Final score : Layton Institute FC 2 – 0 Ward Heating FC.
In summary this was a hard fought quarter-final which could have gone either way until substitute Lee Catlow popped up with his two late goals. Ward Heating certainly played their part in this cup tie and will be sorry to see the end of their unbeaten run. They had a couple of decent chances and sub Barney Woolcock was unfortunate not to equalise late on. The keeper had a good game and Gary McEvitt in the middle of the park was outstanding throughout. A great season for Ward Heating FC and who knows they may even face Layton again next season if they're offered a place in the Premier Division.
A difficult game this one for Layton Institute but they put a lot of effort in to get the result they needed. Gledhill semi-finals don't come along too often in Sunday football careers and manager Todd will have his work cut out in selecting a squad to face the holders Quilligans. Good performances today from the midfielders. This was an incredibly difficult pitch to play football on with many players failing to control it on the hard and bobbly pitch but Alex Jebb did better than most. A good workrate and more often than not he won the ball, controlled the ball and distributed it well. He was therefore awarded with the football and Man of the Match trophy kindly donated by our friends at kit supplier Teamsport90
Teamsport90 Man of the Match – Layton Institute FC's Alex Jebb