It was a trip to Thornton Sports Centre this morning to watch Premier Division side, Gardeners Arms FC take on Preston team Tarleton Corinthians FC in Round 2 of this season's Lancashire Sunday Trophy. With only seven of our sides remaining in the competition and with six of them away from home it looked to be a difficult day ahead for the BFSFA.
The Gardeners Arms FC have enjoyed a great start to the season. This morning's Premier Division table showed them in third place four points behind leaders Quilligans after picking up four wins and two defeats from their opening six matches. They're a mixture of allsorts with players from such clubs as Hydronics, Red Rose Catering, Pulcinellas and Fleetwood Car Centre making up the squad.
A first round bye followed by wins against Highbury Vets FC and Great Eccleston FC have propelled them into Round 4 of the Gledhill Cup where they'll take on the winner of today's Spindles v Stable Bar tie. In the opening Round of this competition they were initially shocked by fellow BFSFA side AFC Wilo of Division 3 who raced into a 2-0 lead at Boundary Park before the Gardeners finally showed their superiority with a 5-2 win.
Their opponents today were Preston side Tarleton Corinthians FC who are currently fourth in Division 2 but importantly, unbeaten with maximum points after three wins. They're four points behind leaders Plungington Celtic FC with two games in hand. Last season, they were crowned Division 3 Champions following a campaign of seventeen wins and three defeats which was enought to win the title over Euxton Corinthians FC by a point so it looks as though they're a team full of confidence hoping to climb the Preston Divisions quickly.
Yesterday's strong easterly wind had thankfully subsided. A glorious morning with clear blue skies and a light breeze. By the end the forecasted Indian summer had arrived and the mercury was nudging 20 degrees. The grass was a little long but good to firm. Today's match official was Mr Barry Cropp and at 10:55 we were underway with the Gardeners in yellow kicking towards the Sports Centre.
The Gardeners Arms FC 2010/11
Tarleton Corinthians FC 2010/11
The respective Captains with Mr Cropp prior to the toss of the coin
The Gardeners kick off
The Corinthians centre half. He had a busy but effective game
You're being watched Anton
Get back! Tarleton free kick
Injured Lee Impett in charge of the Gardeners this morning. Not the happiest of watchers.
Mr Cropp frowns
Tarleton under each other's feet
This game was interesting from the off. Both sides had good spells but the home side just edged first half possession. The match came alive in the last minute of the opening period. The enigmatic and unpredictable Brett Dawson cut inside from the right, beat two players on the edge of the box and fired low past the Corinthian's keeper into the bottom corner. Great goal. 1-0
Less than a minute later Corinthians were level. The Gardeners switched off after taking the lead. A corner was only half cleared and it fell nicely for Simon Hill who smashed it in off the far post leaving Gardener's keeper Matt Smith with no chance of saving it. 1-1.
Simon Hill's shot finds the back of the net to give the visitors an equaliser.
Half time score : The Gardeners Arms FC 1 – 1 Tarleton Corinthians
Danny Betmead, Lee Impett and Jim Betmead at the half time interval
Loyal Gardener's fans – did a great job of ball retrieval from the big ditch
Miss Eva Rose Brooks out in the sunshine with Dad Steve
Tarleton manager James Smith rallies his troops at half time
The Corinthians start the second half
The Gardeners started the second half much the better team and two minutes in they regained the lead. A free kick was floated into the box. The Tarleton keeper came but he was beaten to it by the head of Brett Dawson who nodded it backwards into the empty net. A brave header. 2-1
Dawson's header finds the back of the net for his and the Gardener's second
Danny Betmead (Left)
Once again, the Gardener's couldn't defend the lead and once again the visitors fought back from behind. A long throw into the box wasn't defended properly and Josh Norgate took advantage to head it into the corner past the despairing Smith. 2-2
Get in there !
Anton Byrne Carter
A key moment in the match as two minutes later a Gardener's goal was ruled out for offside. Their players complain vociferously to Mr Cropp but the Tarleton liner's decision was upheld.
Corinthian's goal keeper David Tomlinson
On 75 minutes the visitors took the lead for the first time in the game. Yet again, the set piece wasn't dealt with and following another long throw, Dan Birkby pounced to put Corinthians 3-2 ahead.
Dan Birkby (9) celebrates his important goal
Mr Cropp has a word with Brett Dawson but the cards stayed in his pocket today.
Tarleton defended their lead better than the Gardeners and safely saw out the game.
Final score : The Gardeners Arms FC 2 – 3 Tarleton Corinthians FC
Yet another great game of Sunday football that was well worth watching, especially fot the neutral. Twice, the Gardeners took the lead and twice Tarleton fought back before scoring the all important winner. Tarleton are a hard working set of youngsters who have clearly grown used to winning football matches. They never gave up and showed a good fighting spirit away from home against a Premier Division side to make it through. We wish then the best of luck in Round 3.
As for the Gardeners, they'll be hugely disappointed with this result. Twice they failed to hold on to the lead for more than ten minutes and looking at the size of their defence they'll be unhappy to have conceded all three goals from set pieces. On the positive side, they are still well placed in both the Premier Division and the Gledhill Cup so they still have lots to play for.