A double round-up this week looking at matches played on the 4th and the 11th of February.
Saturday 4th February
For starters, title-chasing Great Ecc hosted Longton looking to extend their two-point lead at the top of the table by virtue of Lancaster not playing. In the early stages, it was a tight affair as both teams looked to gain a foothold in the game. Longton fashioned the first big chance in the game when captain Jonathan Bowen got to the byline and pulled the ball back to the penalty spot – and there was Tom Cobham to sweep the ball home first-time into the bottom left-hand corner. Minutes later, Longton nearly made it two when Zsolt Balo broke into the box but drilled the ball inches wide. Great Ecc responded by fashioning a number of chances at the other end but were thwarted by defensive blocks and good goal-keeping. At half-time and 1-0 down, Great Ecc knew they faced a big 45 minutes ahead of them in their quest for the league title. Longton remained dogged and determined, putting their bodies on the line against intense Eccy pressure whilst always looking a threat on the break through the pace of Tom Cobham. Ultimately, the home side finally levelled the score after 65 minutes with Dan Ball picking up the pieces from a shot parried by the Longton goalkeeper. Great Ecc continued to apply pressure chasing that winning goal and it looked as though time had ran out – but with just 90 seconds remaining a great ball over the top into the left-hand channel found Ball again and he closed in on goal before slipping the ball past the goalkeeper to secure three vital points for Eccy.
In the other fixture played on 4th February, Wray made the relatively short journey to Carnforth to take on Loko. It proved to be a comfortable away victory for the boys in red and black helped by an early goal from George Ibbetson. Wray doubled their lead shortly before half-time when striker Jake Fawcett – who has missed large chunks of the season – demonstrated what a valuable asset he is by scoring his first of three goals on the day. His second came just after the break before Ibbetson grabbed his second on the hour mark. An unfortunate own goal and Fawcett’s hat-trick finish saw the final score finish 6-0 to Wray.
Great Ecc 2-1 Longton
Dan Ball 65, 89 // Tom Cobham 8
Loko 0-6 Wray
George Ibbetson 11, 62 Jake Fawcett 36, 51, 85 o.g 78
Saturday 11th February
The most recent round of fixtures saw three matches played including two league fixtures and the preliminary round of the League Trophy.
We’ll start with the cup where it was great to once again welcome Preston City Mission into SportsReach competition; a wonderful church fellowship supporting numerous ministries both at home and abroad. They have a newly founded team featuring lots of Romanians across a wide range of ages and they play with great spirit and endeavour. Their League Trophy preliminary round fixture away to an in-form Wray side proved too much of a hurdle on the pitch but the experience they’ve derived from playing in SportsReach competition this season will stand them in great stead moving forward. The final score was 9-1 to Wray with doubles from George Ibbetson, Jack France, Wayne Hutchinson and Andrew Swinbank.
In the league, reigning champions Lancaster travelled to Quernmore in a repeat of last season’s Champions Cup Final. And just like that encounter, this promised to be a tight and enthralling affair. Lancaster went into the game in second place, five points behind Great Eccleston with a game in hand. And they got off to a flying start with long-serving striker Michael White scoring midway through the first half. It was the second half, however, where the game really came to life with a flurry of four goals in seven minutes – beginning with Quernmore drawing level through Will Fielding. However, Lancaster quickly restored their lead with Michael White grabbing his second of the game. In a rollercoaster spell, back came Quernmore who showed great spirit to turn the match on its head with two quickfire goals both tucked away by Kyran Harwood. Out of nowhere, the home team lead 3-2 and they managed to hang on to record an impressive victory.
This meant that Great Eccleston could extend their lead at the top of the table to eight points with victory at Fulwood. The home side were sitting in third place and have proved to be tough opposition this season – and at half-time this was proving to be the case with the teams locked at 0-0. But Eccy found another gear in the second half and scored four times in 16 minutes to record a 4-0 away win; Dan Ball once again on the score-sheet with a brace.
Wray 9-1 Preston City Mission (League Trophy Preliminary Round)
George Ibbetson 20, 34 Jack France 26, 50 Wayne Hutchinson 55, 70 Andrew Swinbank 72, 87 George Whitaker 86 // TBC 74
Quernmore 3-2 Lancaster
Will Fielding 52, Kyran Harwood 57, 59 // Michael White 23, 53
Fulwood 0-4 Great Ecc
Dan Ball 51, 60 Jack Sharples 61, Tom Shields 66