At a miserable Moor Park, Bispham in the light drizzle this morning watching Teamsport 90 FC host leaders Blackpool Lane Ends FC in a Division 3 league encounter.
Four wins and a draw from the last five had been enough to return Blackpool Lane Ends FC to the top of the Division 3 table as well as bringing the most recent BFSFA Manager of the Month award to the door of manager Darren Meehan. Last season, and playing as AFC Ansdell Excelsior in 3A, the club ended the season in a creditable fifth place but still fifteen points behind eventual title winners Real Burlington FC. This season they look to be making a serious challenge for promotion and with eighteen wins and one draw from twenty-two games surely now is the time for the club to break into the top three Divisions for the first time in its history. This morning they were three points ahead of the Boars Head FC who had three games in hand.
One of the three clubs to beat them were rivals Boars Head FC who are currently their main title challengers. In the Gledhill Cup they were knocked out by Premier Division side FC Loco after a first round bye. In the Divisonal Cup they comfortably beat No4 Celtic in the opening round but were unable to raise a team for the second round match against Real Burlington who went through with a walk-over.
Their opponents this morning were Teamsport 90 FC. Both of these sides have had many links and associations over the years which only added to the attractiveness of this fixture. Mark Miles' team had their best season ever in 2009/10 and ended up only one point away from securing runners up spot in Division 3A. When the sides met last year the points were shared with a win apiece. Earlier this season, it was the Lane Ends who won the first encounter with a convincing 1-0 win. This morning, Teamsport 90 FC were seventh in the table and if they're to finish any higher they're going to have to put together a really strong finish to the campaign.
Recent league form has been mixed, the club appear to have been finding the net on a regular basis but conceding far too many at the other end. In the Gledhill Cup, they too had a first round bye. They then beat Travel Village in Round 2 before narrowly losing 2-1 away at Mythop in Round 3. They've had a great run in this season's Division 2&3 Cup. They opened with a magnificent win against Grand Designs before progressing in Round 2 thanks to opponents Layton Institute mistakenly fielding an ineligible player. Last Sunday they booked their semi-final place after beating FC Kingsfield 3-1 away.
Unusually, Teamsport were based at Moor Park as opposed to their regular home ground of Boundary Park. Yesterday's warm early Spring sunshine had been replaced by cloud and early morning drizzle and Pitch 1 was heavy and cut up from the start. Still, flat calm and relatively mild. Today's referee was Mr Anthony Jackson and at 11am the game started with Lane Ends kicking off in their white and black strip.
Teamsport 90 FC 2010/11
Blackpool Lane Ends FC 2010/11
Lane Ends in kick off in the gloomy conditions
Community art work at the Moor Park changing block. Keith Hulme (Left) alongside Kevin Moran.
Jeff Blincow comes away with the ball
Lane Ends skipper Martyn Percival
The locals out playing a spot of golf. The youngster calls the shot, 'Big guy, white shirt, number 26!'
Danny Garth (Centre)
Head injury for Wilks. Manager Meehan dispenses the magic sponge
One of very few first half chances. The ball falls kindly for 'Lonners' but keeper Kennerly pulls off a brilliant point blank block to deny Teamsport.
Referee Mr Anthony Jackson
Teamsport defensive wall
Keith Hulme in full flight. A dull first half for the few spectators who were releved to hear the whistle
Half time score : Teamsport 90 FC 0 – 0 Blackpool Lane Ends FC
Three minutes into the second period and the deadlock was finally broken. A throw from the left was flicked on by Moran and it crept into the far corner off the upright. Keeper Kennerly was left floundering in the rigging. 1-0
Strange pre-corner routine from Lee
Lane Ends pressure grows from long high balls into the area. (It was like Blackburn Rovers FC all over again).
Moran goes close with one of three second half chances that he usually buries
Teamsport 90 FC player manager Mark Miles (Left). On 80 minutes, Lane Ends finally got their equaliser thanks to a Ryan Green powered header from a corner. It gave keeper Jones no chance. Apologies to Green as I failed to capture it as the camera was on the wrong setting. 1 -1
Paul Smith with his back to goal.
88 minutes and referee Jackson awards a free kick to Blackpoo Lane Ends FC. The initial shot is tipped over by Ant Jones. The resultant corner (no it wasn't a free kick three yards in from the flag' was headed (shouldered home 'John Terry like' by Mick Treece-Birch to give Lane Ends all three points. 1-2
Referee assessor Peter Brown. Note for official – 'Never trust Sunday league linesmen to ensure that a corner is taken from the right place, especially if said linesman is the manager of the player taking it with the score at 1-1 with two minutes left to play'.
A very late chance for a dramatic Teamsport equaliser but Kennerly is first to it
The ref blows his whistle and it's all over
The respective player managers shake hands with contrasting feelings
Final score : Teamsport 90 FC 1 – 2 Blackpool Lane Ends FC
Three important points then this morning for Blackpool Lane Ends FC that kept them at the top of Division 3 and extended their winning streak to five games but that's as far as it goes for positive statements. Manager Meehan and his men will realise that they got out of jail this morning and in fairness would have been fortunate to end up with one point rather than three. In the first half, they were poor. They were disjointed, dull and lucky to go in with nil. In the second half, as with the first, they only looked dangerous from long throws and corners and in the end the set pieces paid dividends with two almost identical goals. I don't think they would have scored from open play if they'd carried on until midnight. Still, it's always a good sign when a side wins despite playing badly and if they can carry on this momentum they might still take the title. The Manager of the Month curse almost struck Daz Meehan and he wasn't slow to conced that his side were fortunate this morning.
As for Teamsport 90 FC, they were ten minutes away from a famous victory and will quite rightly consider themselves hard done by. At the very least they deserved a point from this one but in the end, the aerial bombardment from Lane Ends proved to be their undoing. Both sides are fortunate to play most of their home matches on good surfaces but due to today's switch of venue they both ended up on an energy sapping pudding of a pitch. However, it was Teamsport 90 who adapted to the conditions far better and they played some good football at times with the impressive Connor Cooper and veteran Kevin Moran proving to be a constant threat to the Lane Ends rear-guard. A little more composure in front of goal in the second half may have given them that killer second but at 1-0, anything can happen and so it proved this morning. An interesting second half. Well reffed by Mr Jackson.