Only three of our sides had made it through to Round 4 of this season's Lancashire Sunday Trophy. The Devonshire Arms FC had been handed a difficult home tie against last season's winners and strong favourites Lostock Hall FC from the Preston Sunday League. The ground of Blackpool Wren Rovers FC was the venue on another great morning for Sunday Football.
BFSFA side Devonshire Arms FC were fifth in the Premier Division table this morning. They're still well placed after only one defeat in the league this season which came against FC Loco back in late August. Wins against Northern Care, Blackpool Rangers, FC Eden and current leaders Gardeners Arms has left them looking good to put in a decent challenge. They're currently eight points behind the Gardeners but have three games in hand. The Devvy have also been impressive thus far in this extremely difficult competition. Having been handed three away ties they came back with good wins from The Station Hotel, the New Gardeners and Euxton Corinthians. After a second round walk over against the Lane Ends they were knocked out of this season's Gledhill Cup by Fleetwood Gym FC.
Today's formidable opponents were top Preston side AFC Lostock Hall who comprehensively beat BFSFA side Quilligans FC in the final of last season's Lancashire Sunday Trophy. After easing into the competition with a home walkover they've gone on to knock out Quilligans 5-0 and fellow Preston side Acregate Lane Labour Club FC. Last season, they were also crowned Champions of the Preston Sunday League. The side are currently third in the table. The run of of glorious weather on Sunday mornings continued. Sunshine, flat calm and a good surface at Blackpool Wren Rovers FC. Fair to say then that the Devonshire Arms FC were the underdogs this morning. This morning's referee was Mr Barry Cropp. At 11am we were underway with the Devvy attacking the changing block end wearing their black and tangerine kit.
Voluntary musical accompaniment has been re-introduced
Devonshire Arms FC 2010/11
The Devvy get the game underway
An early scare for the Lostock rear-guard
After a breezy opening for the home side, Lostock finally settled. In the above picture the impressive number eight fired a shot against the post and keeper Greg Bird made a great follow up save with his legs.
Cram cutting in from the right.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane?……referee Cropp waves play on and denies a Lostock penalty appeal
'Let me help you'
Referees' secretary Dave Connor skulking in the background
The Lostock contingent
On 22 minutes Lostock took the lead. A long ball into the box fell nicely for the No8, he took a touch and made no mistake from ten yards. 0-1
'See ya later'
Wayne Hughes pondering
Bird looks for a counter attacking opportunity
After a couple of crunching tackles there was an off the ball incident whilst the teams awaited a Lostock free kick. Red card for the Lostock number 10
Wayne Gardiner (Right)
A meaty challenge
Half time score : The Devonshire Arms FC 0 – 1 AFC Lostock Hall
Thirsty players but manager Rossie drinks all the water
Stood still for a split second
All managers know that with Cram it's an arm around the shoulder rather than the big stick
Lostock's ten men start the second half
Cram is felled
Another busy start to the half for the Devvy. The free kick was too hot too handle for the Lostock keeper. It looked like Gardiner was the first to react but he couldn't notch the golden opportunity to level things up.
A good leap
Agony as the ball flashes across the Lostock goalmouth
A good day for the LFA today with both teams adding plenty of fines to those already bulging coffers
A frustrated O'Loughlin scythes down his opponent. The ball is hurled at him as he tried to apologise – it missed
The keeper comes over the top of Bryn
It's all over, the managers shake hands at the end of a close Cup tie
Full time score : The Devonshire Arms FC 0 – 1 AFC Lostock Hall
In summary, this was a great effort by the Devonshire Arms FC and after three away wins followed by a narrow defeat by the current holders and Preston Champions they'll look back on this season's Lancashire Sunday Trophy with a sense of pride. However, they'll also have a nagging regret that they couldn't have made more of this tie. They had two or three really good chances to equalise and if they had done so, and with the opposition on the back foot they could have gone on to win it. In addition, they could have kep the ball a little better with the one man advantage. Cram and O'Loughlin worked hard offensively and certainly caused the Lostock defenders a few headaches.
Every credit to the Preston visitors. They're a really hardworking side and for 90 minutes they chased down every loose ball and never allow the opposition players time on the ball. The No6 and No8 are both quality midfielders and are the defensive and creative engines for the side. Even with ten men it didn't look like it for long periods although they were largely restricted going forward in the second half as the Devvy pushed on for that elusive equaliser. Good luck to AFC Lostock Hall in the next round (Unless they're playing Poulton SFC).