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A strong defensive display was the foundation for a deserved County win, as they did enough to keep out a second half bombardment.
With Fylde A’s firm favourites in the other semi-final, there were some who were anticipating an all Fylde final. County looked in no mood to succumb to the supposed dominance of their rival college however. They dominated the early exchanges, forcing a series of corners from which the aerial presence of their two strikers threatened the Fylde backline.
The game lulled slightly and it became a scrappy affair. Fylde came close through a free kick from Matthew Poysden, but County looked the more likely to get something, out of the half. They took the lead in the thirty fifth minute. A shot on goal was sharply saved, but the keeper could do nothing to prevent Matthew McCarthy from slotting in the rebound to put his team closer to the final.
The game was hard tackling, and a goal line scramble left Stewart Rowland, Fylde’s influential midfielder played, carrying a knock. He played on through the second half, and was soon joined on the injury list by Fylde keeper Julian Surface, who sprained his wrist clearing a corner. Luckily for him, he did not have much to do as his team began piling the pressure on County. The football was mostly being played in County’s half, with Fylde looking close to an equaliser. Two more Poysden free kicks went narrowly wide, and some good play on the wing led to a good save from the County keeper. It was Fylde’s turn to have a succession of corners, the dust in the goal area rising every time the teams scrambled for the ball. Much to the frustration of Fylde, they could find no way through.
Things got more heated as the game progressed into its final stages, with one of the Fylde supporters being sent far away from the sidelines after swearing at the referee.
County remained solid at the back as they repelled wave after wave of attack. Time was running out for Fylde, and the final whistle sounded after a County defender made an excellent tackle to stop a last minute equaliser.
After the game, Fylde captain Matthew Poysden said, ‘it’s a disappointing end to a brilliant cup run. I’m very proud of my team and on another day it could have been a different result.’
Alistair Koch, the victorious captain, spoke of his pride at leading County to the final; ‘Fantastic performance really. It was a gritty game but I think we deserved the win. Fylde are a good team and won the league this year, so to reach the final is a big achievement.’ Asked about his team’s chances in the final, he commented ‘we have a chance if we play to our best.’
Fylde seeing double after emphatic win over old rivals
Fylde A 4-0 County A
By Joe Carroll
Fylde College celebrated a league and cup double as they fought out a well earned 4-0 victory against rivals County in the Inter College Cup final.
Fylde, already crowned league champions for the third successive year, were favourites to add the cup to their repertoire; a cup that had proved so elusive in the past. And having already recorded a comfortable win against County in the league, you’d be forgiven for thinking the result would take care of itself. But the cup rarely works in that way, and the games opening exchanges suggested that this would be a much closer affair.
Both sides had the full backing of their college with large crowds lending the tie an edge so typical of these games. The pressure to win was evident from both sides as they kicked off a frantic first ten minutes that saw little football being played. Both teams struggled to find space and neither looked capable of stringing more than two passes together.
County went close early on as their pace in attack sought to undo a strong Fylde defence, but chances were hard to come by and you could sense that the deadlock was going to be broken by the spectacular or the unfortunate. The opening goal had an element of both. Fylde’s Jack Davidson picked up a loose ball outside the County area and finding a moment to compose
himself, the midfielder struck powerfully from a central position. The strike bobbled awkwardly in front of the County keeper who maybe should have done better in his attempts to keep it out, but it ended in his net.
The goal was crucial in giving Fylde the lead, but it did not prove to be the defining moment of the game. County were still well within a shout, as Fylde struggled to find their league winning passing game. The encounter still had an element of scrappiness and County had Fylde in their
sights, but a potential goal of the season was to go some way to helping Fylde put this game to bed.
From a Fylde attack Neil Davies picked up the ball on the left hand side and did much more than just keep the move alive. With the goal at a distance, the midfielder turned the ball onto his favoured right foot and let fly with an unstoppable effort that soared into the top right corner. Even if the goalkeeper had known Davies’ intentions, there would have been nothing he could do to prevent Fylde taking a 2-0 lead.
With a suitable cushion Fylde grew in confidence and started to put together some sequences of passing play that was ever so pleasing on the eye. The trophy looked to be heading to the college under the orange and black banner as County left the field at half time devastated by two extraordinary moments in a game that largely failed to live up to its big game billing.
However, the second half began, and County came back out strongly, refusing to concede that the tie was up. The next goal would prove decisive to the direction in which the game would take, and County were desperate to turn things around. They put Fylde under immediate pressure with a foray of corners that nearly saw the ball bundled over the line. Far from being the prettiest way to score, it seemed the most likely way of penetrating Fylde’s sturdy back line. There were even strong claims for a penalty as the ball bounced off one player to the next like a pinball but the referee dismissed County’s pleas.
At the other end Fylde looked more than capable of adding to their two goals. County’s desperate attempts to claw themselves back into the game meant that Fylde could exploit them on the break. Fylde had men over on a number of occasions as County committed players going forward in search of a comeback. And it was midway through the second half that Fylde found a third goal, effectively etching their name onto the trophy before the final whistle.
County were penned into their own penalty area after a barrage of Fylde attacks and from a corner the ball was kept alive despite County defender’s attempts to clear their lines. The ball fell rather kindly to Rob Newton, who managed to hook a bouncing ball with his right foot into the corner of the goal. It may have taken a slight deflection on its way, but the method didn’t alter the result and Fylde’s faithful following were sent into uproar as they realised their team were so close to glory.
With victory all but assured, Fylde were not willing to just rest on their efforts as they sought a more fanciful scoreline. What was for the most part a very close and sometimes dogged affair, in the end looked far more like a one sided rout and Fylde added to that with a fourth goal with just ten minutes remaining. From one of the many Fylde attacks in the second half, leading score Carl Blenkinsop was put through on goal. With a tight angle, the striker was unfortunate to find the bar instead of the net but Newton was on hand to score his second of the game, chesting the ball as it rebounded and coolly tapping home.
The referee’s whistle confirmed what everyone already knew; ending a hard fought and well deserved victory for Fylde. County might be wondering what could have been had it not been for the first half moments that defined the game: one, an unfortunate bobble caused by an uneven goal mouth; the other a moment of undoubted quality.