Bleak outlook for regions football clubs

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Lancaster City have suffered more than most during the recent cold-spell. The Dolly Blues have had their last three games called off due to a frozen pitch and have been unable to train with local facilities out of commission. The club’s fans are certainly eager to see their side in action; before the scheduled home tie with Curzon Ashton volunteers cleared the terraces, only for the game to be called off at a late stage.

Despite recently moving in to a new stadium, Morecambe have also suffered with postponed fixtures. The eagerly anticipated Victory Shield clash between England and Scotland fell foul of the weather, with Morecambe losing out on valuable revenue as a result. Over 3,500 tickets had been sold for the game and, with Sky cameras in town for live coverage, Morecambe have missed out on the opportunity to publicize the club nationally. The Globe Arena did play host to a league game against Crewe in late November, with Morecambe succumbing to a 2-1 defeat. The Shrimps sit near the foot of League Two and their prospects of collecting vital points this weekend look slim, with Port Vale coming to the Globe.

With their lofty status amongst the elite clubs in the top tier of the English game, even Blackpool have been forced to postpone a home fixture. The Seasiders’ much anticipated clash against Manchester United was called off with a day to spare, after the Bloomfield Road pitch failed a preliminary pitch inspection. The club has been slammed in the media for not investing in under-soil heating and relying on covers that wouldn’t look out of place in the lower leagues. The one Blackpool game played since the last report was a memorable tie against Bolton. Blackpool had raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to headers from Ian Evatt and Luke Varney, and they continued to steam forward as Bolton appeared shell-shocked.  However, Blackpool’s defensive frailties surfaced in the second half as they were carved apart by a resurgent Bolton to snatch a 2-2 draw from the jaws of victory. Blackpool will be looking to build on this positive result when they travel to Stoke on Saturday.

The play-off campaign of Fleetwood Town has been halted by an enforced two-week break in league fixtures. Despite the lack of action on the field, Mickey Mellon has been keeping his players busy with unconventional training routines, including fell running and beach running. Fleetwood have also moved to strengthen their squad after Ian Crainey was allowed to re-join Accrington Stanley on loan; the Cod Army have brought back former star Jamie Milligan from AFC Fylde in a surprise transfer. Ironically, Fleetwood’s only recent game resulted in a humiliating 3-1 loss to AFC Fylde in the Lancashire cup.

Both Wigan and Preston may have escaped the spate of postponements, although given current form they may benefit from having a weekend off. Preston are still searching for a victory and have recorded draws in their last two league fixtures. The first was a morale sapping 0-0 draw against Millwall in which the home fans vented their frustrations at the final whistle. Given this disappointment, few expected the creditable 1-1 draw with Cardiff that followed. However, the overwhelming feeling around the club was one of disappointment; North End were seconds from claiming a victory, only for Andy Keogh to cruelly deny them in the fourth minute of injury time.

Wigan also claimed a point in their last fixture, however a 2-2 draw at home to Stoke must be regarded as below par. Their two other ties resulted in defeat, with a crushing 3-1 loss at Upton Park leading many in the media to consider Wigan as favourites for relegation. The Latics found themselves 3-0 down and facing a mauling, only for Mauro Boselli to squander their best opportunity when he missed a second half penalty and extinguished any hopes of a dramatic comeback. Wigan’s Carling Cup run also ended, with a meek 2-0 surrender to Arsenal during which they failed to test the opposition defence and seemed content to maintain a damaged limitation strategy. A trip to Goodison Park, to face Everton will not fill Wigan fans with hope, as they look to pull away from the relegation zone in the Premier League.

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