|The first visit of the season to Ballam Road, Lytham this morning to watch the Division 3A leaders MA2 FC take on fifth placed Farmers FC. Just a few more wins from their remaining seven games would hand MA2 FC their first honours.|
In the 2002/03 season Goodwins Paint & Body Shop FC joined the BFSFA when we had a very healthy eight Divisions. They finished in seventh place but due to league restructuring they were moved up to Division 3A and changed their name and sponsor to the Cleveley's based accountants MA2 FC for the 2003/04 campaign and they've been in there ever since. Frankly, they were a typical lower league side and in recent seasons they've finished in 8th (03/04), 9th (04/05), 12th (05/06), 9th (06/07) and 8th in 07/08. Winning only 46 of the 140 league games played over the six year period represented an extremely lean period.
However, things have changed dramatically this season and as we reach the final furlong MA2 FC are on the brink of winning their first honours and with seven games left to play just four more wins will probably be enough for manager Pete Jenkinson and his team to take the Division 3A title which will go a long way to putting the dire struggle of the last six seasons behind them.
They've won seventeen of their eighteen league games losing only once to Saddle Inn FC back on August 20th. Their only remaining rivals for the title, Foulds Metals, have already been beaten by them 4-2 earlier in the season and if they repeat the feat in the reverse fixture then they'll be well on their way to winning the title. However, that won't be easy as was shown only a fortnight ago when they were knocked out of the Division 3 Cup by Foulds when they lost 3-1 at home in the quarter finals. Gledhill Cup interest ended in Round 1 when they were beaten 4-2 at home by Spindles.
This morning's opponents were Farmers Arms FC who they narrowly beat 3-2 earlier in the season in the reverse fixture. It's the first season in the BFSFA for this incarnation of the South Shore Pub's association with Sunday football. It's not been calm waters for manager Gordon Mason who's off-field problems with funding and non-committed players have caused him to have one or two headaches. But as we near the end of the 2008/09 season the Farmers are going along very nicely in fifth place. They have six games left and a strong finish could yet still see them finish in third place. The team are in very good form having won six out of the last seven games and they'll have been up for this one.
In the Gledhill Cup they received a first round bye. In round 2 they knocked out C&G Electrical 2-1 but in round 3 they ran into Bloomfield Vets and despite an excellent effort they ended up on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline. In the Divisional Cup they were eliminated in round 1 by FC Gretone in a 5-2 defeat. At one stage of the season the Farmers were on the brink of folding but the collective decision to carry on has been well worth it.
Ballam Road, Lytham is one of my favourite Sunday football venues especially at this stage of the season when the notoriously boggy pitch starts to dry out. After an unsettled week of wind and rain the weather had finally becalmed. A slight overnight frost had burned off to leave a gloriously calm spring morning with blue skies and warm sunshine. The clocks had gone forward an hour and as usual there were a couple of tired looking individuals who had had only four hours sleep instead of the usual five. Today's referee was sixteen year old James Fothergill. He'd originally gone down as a favour to act as linesman but in the absence of a referee he stepped up to officiate in his first ever adult game. 11am we were underway with MA 2 FC in the red and blue kit defending the changing block end.
MA2 FC 2008/09
The Farmers Arms FC 2008/09
Pre match huddle – what's going on in there?
The respective captains Peter Clarkson (Left), John Lawson and referee James Fothergill.
Referee Mr Fothergill.
Not a 'Superhero' (Donatello) but the sponsor from Cleveleys accountancy firm 'MA2' checking on the team. She took full adavantage of the weather to get her leather on and ride her motorbike down to watch the match.
Sean Louth having to go in goals today as the usual custodian was otherwise engaged.
Holding off the opposition.
A great day for football
The MA2 FC subs bench.
Farmers' keeper Chris Brookes launches it upfield.
After a well balanced opening thirty minutes MA2 FC were awarded a penalty by referee Fothergill who adjudged that one of their players was tripped inside the area. There were a few complaints but they weren't very vociferous. In the video below Chris Danson went for the low drive right down the middle and scored. 1-0.
Chris Danson converts the spot kick to put the home side 1-0 up.
Just four minutes later and MA2 FC top scorer Peter Clarkson was on the scoresheet. A ball over the top resulted in a big shout for off-side by the Farmers' defenders but the flag stayed down. Clarkson pounced and rifled it home at the near post from the angle with his right foot.
Four minutes later Peter Clarkson beats the offside flag (Out of picture left) to smash it past Brookes at the near post.
MA2 FC celebrate Clarkson's goal.
Brookes grabs it but Taffy's flag is up on the far side.
Clarkson fails to keep his footing in the penalty area.
Half time score: MA2 FC 2 – 0 The Farmers Arms FC
Six year old Rio Louth out watching Dad Sean keep goal for MA2 FC
Lucas holds off his opponent.
Farmers Arms player manager Gordon Mason.
After the half time interval the Farmers came out fired up firmply believing they were still in the match. They created a top chance almost immediately when a cross into the box just evaded the outstretched boot of the attacker. They then had a headed chance pictured below that just went over the bar and minutes later a cross to the far post found Blincow unmarked but he should have done better with his free header that went wide. The Farmers played their best football of the game in this fifteen minute spell.
A great headed chance for the Farmers but it just went over the bar.
On 61 minutes MA2 FC scored the all important third goal. Shocking defending by the Farmers from a Clarkson corner on the right allowed the ball to bounce twice before Phil Csesznyak hit an unstoppable half volley that gave both Brookes and the defender on the line no hope of stopping it.
Phil Csesznyak scores the all important third for MA2 FC. 3-0.
MA2 FC manager Peter Jenkinson.
Three on to one.
Shinpads are supposed to be worn at the front matey.
“Are we winning Dad?” “We certainly are son”.
With five minutes left MA2 FC wrapped up an important victory with a fourth and final goal. Peter Clarkson crossed from the right. An unamarked MA2 FC beat Brookes with his header that flashed back off the cross bar. Csesznyak was first to the ball and he made no mistake in drilling home the rebound.
4-0 and game over as Csesznyak scores his second.
Get your foot in.
The end of the match.
Final score : MA2 FC 4 – 0 The Farmers Arms FC
This game was a little closer than the final scoreline suggested. The visitors were more than holding their own before the penalty went in but when they conceded a second a few minutes later it was always going to be a big ask to come back into it. The Farmers are a hard working team and now look to have a fairly settled twelve players who look organised. Andy Scott remains a handful for defenders up front and Stuart lord showed occasional glimpses of what he can do. They stay in fifth tonight and with fifteen points still left to play for a good effort could still se them finish higher.
Another great win for MA2 FC and an important three points that takes them six points clear at the top with two games in hand. After this morning's defeat away at FC Gretone it now very much looks like Foulds Metals FC will have to now settle for runners up spot. MA2 FC kept at it today. Staying organised and maintaining their shape was the key to today's victory. Relatively solid at the back and a good work rate in midfield laid the foundations for Peter Clarkson and Phil Csesznyak to torment the opposition defenders. Another big performance from Clarkson who's too good for Division 3. A goal and at least one assist resulted in him being awarded with the football and trophy for being Man of the Match. MA2 FC are now guaranteed at least runners up spot and will almost certainly be playing Division 2 football for the first time next season.
The young referee James Fothergill did well. He'll get even better as his confidence and presence increases. I think he actually enjoyed it. I did.
The Teamsport 90 Man of the Match Peter Clarkson.