Squires Gate Reds are third in the Blackpool and District Youth League’s Under-14 competition after a goal late in each half secured victory over Thornton Cleveleys.
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The Collins Park clash was closer fought than the teams’ previous encounter, which Gate won 4-1, but the visitors had no complaints about the outcome and Thornton manager Garry Ray admitted Gate deserved their victory after controlling the midfield battle.
Ray’s side defended solidly and threatened on the break but they struggled to create clear-cut chances, though Jake Evans twice went one-on-one with the keeper but shot narrowly wide.
Gate’s pressure was rewarded in the dying moments of the first half, when Anthony Cantley’s cross from the right reached Charlie Strachan.
And although he miscued his volley, which looped above the keeper, Strachan had the presence of mind to reach the ball first and fire home.
The game was wrapped up 10 minutes from time, with Cantley again the creator.
This time he sent his captain and central midfield partner Corey Foster through on goal to finish emphatically.
Gate had struggled to find a way through a Thornton defence in which Kevin Richardson and Dylan Robbins excelled, as did Adam Blackpool.
Another Squires Gate team is dominating the league but Reds boss Joshua Strachan is pleased with his side’s progress.
He said: “It wasn’t a comfortable win but it was a confident performance, though they did trouble us on the break.
“We are one of four clubs in the battle for third and to finish third or fourth would be very good.”
Thornton boss Ray admits it will be very difficult for his side to climb into the top four now.
He said: “Sixth is probably the best we can aim for now.
“More competitive games like that will help the players to improve, though the gulf between the top and bottom in this division is too great.
“It was a close game against Squires Gate but we weren’t good enough in the middle of the field, where they dominated.”
The two goalscorers shared the man of the match honours for Gate. Striker Strachan held the ball up well despite pressure from Thornton’s big centre-halves, while captain Foster kept it simple and worked his socks off.
Several defenders gave fine displays for the visitors, though the substitute Jack Wood was the Thornton man of the match defensive midfield role.