October has seen Lancashire’s football clubs struggling for consistency as the league season progresses. Fortunately the lottery that is knockout cup competition has yielded improved results for the local sides.
Wigan have progressed into the quarter-finals of the League Cup with a 2-0 victory over Swansea at the DW Stadium. An added bonus for Roberto Martinez is that Mauro Boselli notched his first goal for the club since his summer arrival. Wigan fans will be hoping that the prolific striker can now reproduce his form whilst playing for Estudiantes. The result may also inspire a Wigan side that have stumbled to league draws with Newcastle and Bolton, and suffered an injury to creative midfielder James McArthur.
Blue Square Premier division new boys Fleetwood are also dreaming of facing the big guns after reaching the first round proper of the FA Cup. A last minute win over minnows Buxton secured their passage into the draw, which has resulted in a favourable home tie against League 1 strugglers Walsall. This cup success has come with the club on a four match winless run in league matches, including a 1-0 defeat to bottom of the table Altrincham. Micky Mellon has been quick to bring in some much needed experience with the capture of Sean Gregan from Oldham.
Local side Lancaster City are competing on three fronts with progress secured in the League Cup and FA Trophy, which is the equivalent of the FA Cup for non-league sides. Unlike their Lancashire neighbours, their league form has also picked up, with a 3-0 victory over Prescot Cables on Tuesday night. In front of a sparse crowd of just 104, Swarbrick put the Dolly Blues ahead with a clinical finish on 20 minutes. With the last kick of the first half, McKenna slammed home from the edge of the box after a jinking run to double the advantage. Lancaster continued to press after the interval and added a third from the spot through substitute Watt.
The region’s other League sides have failed to take advantage of their early exit from cup competition and have struggled for form in their respective divisions. Although Blackpool were unlucky with refereeing decisions in their 3-2 defeat to Manchester City, (Varney’s goal was wrongly called offside and Tevez’s opener for City should have been disallowed) the Tangerines have lost 4 of their last 5 games and sit just a point above the relegation zone.
Preston are also hovering dangerously above the bottom three despite a thrilling 4-3 victory over Crystal Palace moving them up two places. Jon Parkin added another two goals to his season’s tally as North End held on after taking a 4-1 lead.
The Globe Arena may not have witnessed a goal-fest like that at Deepdale, but Morecambe’s 1-0 win over Shrewsbury was equally vital; the Shrimps first win in their new stadium moved them clear of the danger zone for the first time in over a month. Saturday’s FA Cup draw has given Morecambe a tough trip to Cheltenham, but Sammy McIlroy will no doubt be prioritising his side’s league form during November.