Squires Gate got their Blackpool and District Youth League Under-15 campaign off to a winning start against their fellow Reds, who expect to be competing with them for honours come the end of the season
READ MORE: Fylde coast youth football round-up
Both managers agreed Gate were worthy winners at Collins Park, though it took two goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half to separate the sides.
The breakthrough followed a good move down the left, which resulted in winger Tyler Alunan cutting inside to tee up captain Corey Foster.
The midfielder found the bottom left corner of the net with a clinical finish from 20 yards.
The second followed five minutes later, when James Clachy’s free-kick ricocheted around the box before falling for Liam Ruddy, who drove his shot across the keeper into the right side of the goal to double their lead.
Despite playing against the wind in the second half, Gate managed to restrict Kirkham to very few chances while maintaining a goal threat of their own.
And they went close to a third when Joe Wilson’s sweet half-volley from eight yards was somehow cleared off the line.
Kirkham did create opportunities in the second half but failed to test the keeper.
Gate boss Joshua Strachan said: “It was quite a scrappy game on a bobbly pitch and the wind also made it difficult to play, but we were very solid at the back, good going forward and controlled the game.
“For a first game of the season I’m pleased with the performance and I think both teams could be challenging for the title come the end of the season.”
His Kirkham counterpart Craig Renshaw was not too downhearted. He said: “We were second to everything and they wanted it more. They adapted to the conditions better than we did, but we’ve had a good pre-season and it’s only the first game.
“On another day we could have won and I think both sides will be competing come the later stages of the season.”
Dylan Alunan was the Gate man of the match. The centre-half did an excellent man-marking job and continually snuffed out the Kirkham attacks.
Holding midfielder Alfie Renshaw was the Kirkham choice, setting an example to his team-mates by battling for possession and winning the second balls.