Fylde coast youth football is back and our match of the week featuring Poulton Under-16s and Freckleton
Poulton FC defeated Freckleton as the Blackpool and District Youth League resumed after lockdown, though both teams were thrilled just to be out on the pitch for the first time this year.
They are pleased to be part of a new under-16s competition in which all the teams will play each other once before the end of June.
The revised schedule will also include the traditional Hogan Cup, though all results from a disrupted league season before lockdown have been wiped out.
The first half at Cottam Hall playing fields in Poulton was tight as both sides blew away their cobwebs, then the hosts opened up after the break to run out 5-0 winners.
Freckleton played their part but their empty substitutes’ bench was always likely to take its toll after so long without a game.
Jake Wilson scored the only goal before the break, with a great header from captain Dan Reece’s cross, and could have had a first-half hat-trick as he was also denied by the woodwork and a spectacular save.
Poulton doubled their lead within moments of the restart as Louis Purdon drilled home his shot from outside the box, skipper Reece claiming another assist. Tom Gannon scored twice as the hosts took a grip on proceedings, with Lewis Spencer also on target.
It was far from one-way traffic, though. Indeed, Poulton named keeper Aidan Roberts man of the match for two top-drawer saves to secure the clean sheet.
Poulton boss Phil Ashworth said: “The first half was very tight but having a full bench meant we could rotate and that paid off.
“We had kept in touch during the lockdown. It was massively important that the players kept their brains active and did fitness work in the garden, and the parents sent me photos to prove they were doing it.
“The players have slotted straight back into the routine again. We had our first training session last Monday to get an idea of general fitness, then we worked on set-plays last Thursday.
“I think the league’s plans for the rest of the season will work well for everyone. It’s about getting football for the kids in a safe way and that’s great.”
What Freckleton lacked in numbers, they made up for in spirit, and manager Archie Gemmell was pleased to get the first game out of the way.
He said: “At our first training session last Wednesday it was a case of reintroducing the players to a football and we were rusty.
“Poulton played well and took their chances but it was only 1-0 at half-time. The message was to try to keep the ball better but we conceded early in the second half and frustration set in.
“We’ll try to get some players back but it’s difficult with 16-year-olds at the best of times as they start getting jobs, but it’s all about the players enjoying some games for the next three months.”
Archie named centre-back Tom Watmore and right-back Sam Broadbent as players of the match.
In other Under-16 games, St Annes Yellows proved just too strong for Foxhall Hoops, with goals from Jake Prosser, Lewis Hiley and Elliot Collings.
FC Rangers got the better of Layton Clarets thanks to goals from Cal Hardingham-Clarke and a Warren Meek hat-trick.
There was also a hat-trick for Ethan Hayes of Wyre Juniors in their win over St Annes Diamonds, with Jake Ward also on target for Wyre.
The Under-7s and U8s teams played in development matches and there was a lot of entertaining football to watch. All the players had fun and the Easter Bunny turned up at some venues to hand out eggs.
It was fantastic to see the players out in the sun and fresh air again, and the league thanked all clubs and volunteers for their massive efforts to make venues as safe as possible.
Poulton Town Under-11s were among many clubs who couldn’t wait to get back into action but they found themselves short of players due to the pandemic.
That didn’t prevent them winning their first game back in the Poulton and District League, 10-4, but coach/sponsor Jason Steele would be happy to hear from any potential players on 07875 447070.
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here