Tuesday 21st October 2008

Squires Gate 1 Newcastle Town 1
Vodkat League Premier Division
At School Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 52
Weather: Cold, windy, showers

This was always going to be an interesting game.

Could Newcastle make it five league and cup wins on the trot?

Could Squires Gate, unbeaten in their previous five league game, do their neighbours (and league leaders) AFC Fylde a favour by taking points off one of the side in second place in the Premier Division table?

What would AFC Fylde do in their home game with Nelson as a better result for Newcastle would see then leap over Fylde into top spot?

As it turned out, both Squires Gate and Newcastle scored in the last five minutes in a 1-1 draw but the main talking point was the decision to disallow Andy Kinsey’s goal early in the second half. Leaders AFC Fylde did win their game 4-1 at home to Nelson to extend their lead at the top to three points with a game in hand.

I accepted a most welcome offer to travel to Blackpool on the Newcastle coach – much appreciated. Approaching the ground along the M55, there was a torrential downpour which made me wonder if the game would actually be on or not. I needn’t have worried as the playing surface was in excellent condition and showed no real sign of the rain that had fallen.

Squires Gate’s School Road ground is one of three in close proximity. Next door are Blackpool Wren Rovers and AFC Blackpool play a quarter of a mile way as the crow flies.

A drive leads away from the road to SG’s home and programmes (£1) are available at the entrance. Through into the ground, the pitch runs length ways to the right. On the near touchline is the clubhouse with covered seating on half-way. Behind the near goal is another seated stand reserved for club officials. Over of the far touchline, nearest to Rovers’ ground is a lengthy but narrow area of covered standing from where I chose to watch the game, sheltered from the biting cold wind blowing from the Irish Sea.

I obtained the teams from the helpful Secretary and they were also announced over the tannoy.

With Squires Gate in blue, Newcastle wore their change kit of all yellow.

The first half was best described as a stalemate though Newcastle keeper Danny Read pulled off a couple of fine saves in the minutes leading up to the interval.

The incident involving Kinsey’s goal looked like proving crucial especially when, in the 86th minute, Andy Harvie hammered home what looked like being a late winner for the home side. But Newcastle substitute Neville Thompson fired home at close range three minutes later from Steve Elks’ flick on to salvage a vital point for his side.

However, the furore surrounding the goal that wasn’t, five minutes after the restart, will be one of those incidents that will be stick in the football memories part of my brain. Kinsey fired a 20-yard free-kick into the top right corner only for the referee to disallow it after consulting his assistant because an INDIRECT free-kick had gone straight in without gaining a touch. The Newcastle players were sure the referee had awarded a DIRECT free-kick. Both sides appeared to accept that a goal had been scored.

It was one of those things that needed a lot of careful thought on how to word it correctly before filing my copy. I suppose I thanked Thompson for his late goal which made my job in the early hours a little easier, but only just!

Squires Gate: Speight, Benfield, N. Taylor, McKenna, Phillips, Ford, Harvie, Muscroft, Farrar, Bartlett (Hibbert, 53), Horn. Unused subs: Davies, Broomhead, Moretti, Harrison.

Newcastle Town: Read, Espley, P. Taylor, Elks, Dicker (Hill, ht), Bourne, Brown, Wilkes, Budrys (Thompson, 73), Kinsey, Minor. Unused subs: Willis, Fogg, Macari.

Referee: M. Pope.