At Boundary Park, Blackpool watching the Premier & Division 1 Cup quarter-final tie between Christ the King FC and Spindles FC. Both sides were promoted from Divisions 2A and 2B respectively at the end of last season. Both were going well in Division 1 but gaining a Divisional Cup semi-final place would make for a great achievement.
On April 25th 2010 these two sides met in the final of the Division 2 Cup at the ground of Blackpool Wren Rovers FC. It turned out to be one of the best Divisional Cup finals of recent seasons as in a match of changing fortunes, Spindles FC lifted the Cup after winning 5-4 on penalties, the score being 3-3 after 90 minutes. Both sides also achieved promotion from their respective Divisions. Spindles FC finishing fourth in Division 2A whilst Christ the King FC, then playing as the Progress Sports & Social FC, took the Division 2B title by a point from Highfield Social FC.
In my view, there's a considerable step up in quality when sides reach Division 1. It's often the most competitive and hard fought Divison in the Blackpool & Fylde Sunday Football Alliance and this season it's proved to be no different. Both of today's teams initially took a little while to acclimatise in the higher Division but in recent months they have both hit form and with little over nine weeks of the season to go both look good bets to be playing Premier Division Sunday football next season. Christ the King were third in the table this morning with Spindles just a point behind in fourth with two games in hand.
The clubs were still to face each other in league action so this was their first meeting since that dramatic Cup final of last April. Christ the King FC were unbeaten in their last nine league and Cup matches having last tasted defeat away at Wrea Green FC in round 4 of the Gledhill Cup on November 7th. They hadn't been beaten in the league since the end of August. They'd reached today's quarter-final by beating Premier Division side Blackpool Rangers FC in round 2 after an opening round bye.
Spindles FC were also enjoying a decent run of form. They were unbeaten in the league for seven matches although last week's 1-1 draw against bottom club Uncle Toms helped highlight the competitive nature of Division 1. They've always been a good Cup side and in the Gledhill Cup they showed their pedigree once again by beating DH Gas FC, Stable Bar FC and Gardeners Arms FC before falling to holders Poulton SFC in the last eight. They reached today's Divisional Cup quarter-final by beating Uncle Toms Cabin and Golden Eagle in earlier rounds.
John Hay was the listed official for this morning's game. The heavy frost that was forecast for overnight fortunately failed to materialise and after a week without rain the Boundary Park pitches were in good condition for early March. The weak sun was shining, there was a chill Southerly breeze and the temperature stubbornly remained below five degrees. At 11am this much anticipated contest was underway with Christ the King in the luminous yellow kicking off.
Christ the King FC 2010/11
Spindles FC 2010/11
Christ the King FC kick off
An early opportunity for King as Kurt Smith broke clear, beat keeper Morrell with his shot but bottom right you can see the ball hitting the foot of the post.
Bradley Gill in full flight
Kyle Goodwin (Front)
Referee John Hay
A rare sight post October – WAG
Christ the King FC keeper Chris Brown
Waiting for the throw-in
Danny Howard (Right)
On 27 minutes Christ the King FC took the lead against the run of play. Spindles, with the breeze on their backs, had enjoyed a great spell of offensive possession but couldn't find the net. The left back collected a throw from his keeper but was badly disposessed by Gill. He swung in a fantastic bending cross and the unmarked Andy Brown powered a bullet header past Morrell. 1-0
The first of many yellow cards for Christ the King FC
An excellent chance for Spindles as a cross shot comes back off Brown's right hand post. A let off for Christ the King
Another good tussle
Where's the ball?
On the stroke of half time, Dave Wadiun headed home a corner but referee Hay disallowed it for a push in the back on the keeper.
Christ the King FC not happy, more dissent and another yellow card.
Half time score: Christ the King FC 1 – 0 Spindles FC
Spindles FC start the second half
The ball is smothered by the ample frame of Chris Brown
Just wide from Spindles
Once again, it was Spindles who had the best of the opening exchanges but although they placed the Christ the King rearguard under some pressure they again could not convert their chances.
Best seat in the house….T Shirt weather at Grange Park
More dissent…..another yellow card
Christ the King defend another corner.
A good leap by the Spindles' forward but keeper Brown has the advantage
Spindles man down after an enthusiastic challenge
On 83 minutes, Christ the King sealed the win. A Spindles attack was hoofed clear from the edge of their own area. Bradley Gill was on to it like a flash and his pace and strength took him clear of the defenders and from the angle he smashed it past Morrell and into the back of the net. Two similar efforts earlier in the game had flown dangerously across the six yard box and away to safety but he got it right this time. 2-0
Just as the clock ticked into the 90th minute Spindles pulled one back thanks to Kyle McAdan who converted powerfully at the back post. Spindles want the ball back quickly but Christ the King were unwilling to oblige. 2-1
For the second week running there was a petulant kick by a defender on an opposition player and for the second week running a red card was the result.
Mr Hay's whistle is blown and this hard fought encounter comes to an end.
Full time score : Christ the King FC 2 – 1 Spindles FC
Congratulations then to Christ the King FC who made it through to the semi-finals of the Premier & Division 1 Cup thanks to a narrow win against good opposition. They are a strong team who work hard for each other and it is of little surprise as to why they have put an impressive run together. There were too many cards for dissent today and Saturday ref's like John Hay only give them one warning and then they're in the book. Manager Scott Buchanan was grumbling that they often only have a bare eleven plus himself and a young substitute to choose from so it is hoped that suspensions and heavy fines don't cost them a top two finishing place which they are more than capable of achieving.
Spindles FC can take a number of positives from this match. For a twenty minute period in each half they put together a dominant spell of offensive possession and count themselves unlucky to have gone in one down at the interval. They too are well placed for promotion and look good if they can convert a few more of their chances. If you're at a loose end in the next month or so then you could do a lot worse than turning up to watch one of the two league encounters that are yet to be played between these two evenly matched sides as they are again likely to put on an unpredicable, exciting and battling show. Good luck to Christ the King FC in the semni-finals. Well officiated by Mr Hay.