Sportspy Extra – Saturday Sepember 19th 2009.

With Blackpool FC away at Nottingham Forest FC it was off next door to watch local side Blackpool Wren Rovers FC take on Stoneclough FC in the Premier Division of the West Lancs Premier League.


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Last week's visit to Fleetwood was purely from a neutral perspective but this week I have to declare an interest because when Blackpool FC are away or even when they're at home and not worth paying the admission fee due to playing poorly then Blackpool Wren Rovers FC are our first choice for a football fix on a Saturday afternoon.  Free admission is a bonus but not the main factor for attending.  For the last three and a bit seasons Wrens, in my humble opinion, have been one of the best amateur footballing sides we have on the Coast.  They entertain with an all out attack mentality.  If anything, they often play too much football on the edge of the opposing box and fail to kill teams off.  They literally 'football' opponents to death but currently, they're not scoring enough goals.

The legacy of ex manager Mark Senior was that he finally gave the younsters a chance and  ever since then they've never looked back.  I did have a concern at the beginning of last season when he left and took a couple of players with him but those concerns proved unfounded as new manager Dave Worthington ably supported by the same back room staff managed to retain many of the players, recruited wisely and were a whisker away from winning the title.  As with the season before they finished second and prior to that they finished in third so they're not too far away.  Although unashamedly biased I have to say that they've thrown it way rather than coming second to better teams.  Too many poor results at home late season against inferior bottom half sides have cost them dear. 

This season, they've gain started strongly with many of the team still nowhere near 25.  The boy and I have watched about six of their first seven games including away trips to Lostock St Gerards and Garstang where they were rather unfortunate not to come way with more than a point but the usual problem of not putting the gloss on excellent possession cost them dear.  This morning they were fourth in the table four points behind rivals Charnock Richard but had a game in hand.  Opponents Stoneclough were down in eleventh after a mixed start that's seen them pick up two wins and two draws from their first seven games.  Last season they were one of only a handful of sides that denied Wrens a win as both matches ended in draws.  Stoneclough is near Kearsley just outside Bolton.  We went there for the last game of last season in May and like many of the venues in this league it's a well maintained ground offering a friendly welcome all within an hour of the tower.

A little gloomy for pictures this afternoon due to the overcast rainy conditions but warm, calm and muggy for the players on this mid September afternoon.  Mr Denton was todays official.  Blackpool Wren Rovers FC were in the red shirts.  Last week it was Fleetwood Town FC with 1,126 fans, this week it was School Road with about forty supporters.  Grass roots at its best.

All smiles in the warm up apart from the groundsman.

Blackpool Wren Rovers FC 2009/10

Number one fan – Kev the pie eater – rarely misses a game home or away.

Stoneclough get us underway.

Wren's manager Dave Worthington

Steve Creelman (Left)

Peter Taberner is put under pressure.

Stoneclough keeper

Sam Gorrie (Right)

Tom Duerden – along with young Sharples has the highest work-rate in the team.

Club stalwart – Michael Tilson – one of the key volunteers behind the club.

Young Creelman – another Wren's regular

Yeomans stretches.

Stoneclough unlucky as the ball flashes across the goalmouth.

Another corner for Stoneclough.

Danny Pickering was beaten fairly to the ball, got involved in some petulant shirt pulling, made things worse with a bit of backchat – yellow card – right decision.

Well, in the first half Wren's failed to live up to my build up.  They were disjointed and although they were reasonably solid at the back they unusually gave up possession to easily and lacked that incisive bite going forward.  However, shortly before the break they took the lead.  The key was patience.  An attack broke down and the ball came out to Methven.   He calmly switched it to Lewis Cook whos cross to the far post was nodded on by Duerden for Jack Sharples who made no mistake as he slotted it past the keeper.  1-0 and that's how it stayed until the break.

Sharples (10) opens the scoring for Blackpool Wren Rovers FC

He almost had another moments later but a last gasp deflection took it off his toe.

Cleelman takes a nose dive.

The ref missed this 'assisted' leap by Methven.

Half time : Blackpool Wren Rovers FC 1 – 0 Stoneclough FC

At half time most club chairmen are entertaining visiting officials with champagne and canapes.  Instead, Dave Brewell gets the ladder and flag in order to retrieve wayward footballs from the top of the stand.

As per usual Mr Alan Grieve gives shooting lessons to the substitutes at the half time interval.

Another key volunteer runs the snack bar.

The second half begins.

The Stoneclough number 7 – probably the best player on the pitch today.

Nick Corless – couldn't get forward as much as usual today.

An invasion, 'get that kid off the pitch'

The Stoneclough bench

A near miss for the visitors.  Yeomans is beaten but the ball flies wide.

'Sit down and stay there'

The chairman in his executive box.

Absolutely no interest in the game.

Wrens go close at the death

It's all over.

Final score:  Blackpool Wren Rovers FC 1 – 0 Stoneclough FC

Despite bringing on three subs during the course of the second half and mixing it up a little Wrens still failed to find their usual rhythm and for once failed to dominate their opponents.  Credit to Stoneclough who gave an honest performance, worked really hard, played some good football and in all fairness few would have begrudged them a point.

If anything, Wrens were only slightly the better side. On a positive note they defended well and kept a clean sheet.  It's still early season and I still consider them good favourites for this Division.  Manager Worthington has lots of very good players on the books and with Tobin and Corless C to come back from injury he'll have a good number of options to consider – I'm sure he and his management team will pick the right combinations.  A hard earned three points in a game that last season they may have drawn.  Onwards and upwards.

Sportspy 2009/10

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