SQUIRES GATE (School Road)

On an absolutely freezing December afternoon, I decided it was worth a journey to Blackpool as I felt certain the biting wind coming in off the Irish Sea would be enough to warm ones cockles!

Only joking, what attracted me was the chance to tick off another ground in my (seemingly never ending) quest to complete the North West Counties League, and also what looked like a very interesting tie in the 3rd round of the FA Vase.

Squires Gate, of the aforementioned North West Counties League, were taking on Staveley Miners Welfare of the Northern Counties East League. Both sides are in the Premier Division (step 5) of their respective leagues.

Squires Gate's School Road ground is in the Marton area of Blackpool and is your typical ramshackle North West Counties League ground, with a mixture of covered narrow terraces and small seated stands. The type of ground I really enjoy! The ground is separated by a concrete fence from neighbours Blackpool Wren Rovers, whose ground is adjacent to Squires Gate' ground. I'm sure that would make a good double header for someone!

Also, as another bonus, just around the corner is Shovels, a GBG entry, which has 6 handpulls of ale on the go. Unfortunately for me, the one I wanted to taste, from the local Lytham Brewery, was off today so I had to make do with a Northern Soul and a Golden Bolt. Very tasty.

The opening exchanges of the game were pretty even but, once Staveley got their noses in front after 23 minutes, there was only going to be one winner.  An attack down the right resulted in the ball being squared into the box and Ryan Damms had a simple side foot in from close range.

Staveley went two up after 44 minutes when another cross into the box was headed home by Aymen Tahar, who beat Gate debutant goalkeeper Dave Rogerson to the ball, when the custodian should really have got there first.

In stoppage time the homesters nearly dragged themselves back into the game when a free kick went narrowly wide, with the Staveley goalkeeper beaten.

The second half was more of the same and it was no surprise when Staveley increased their lead after 57 minutes. A break into the box by a Staveley attacker was unselfishly squared to Damms who chipped the advancing 'keeper for his second of the game. He could've had a hat-trick, but his point blank header was well saved by Rogerson.

The scoring was complete just after the hour when Tahar bagged his second, once again after an unselfish team mate set him up to fire home an easy effort. The homesters gave it their best effort but they were simply outclassed by Staveley, who now go into Monday's 4th round draw.

I must give mention to the Squires Gate programme which, on the face of it, seemed quite poor value for £2 but on the back was a voucher to tear off and claim a free hot drink and hot dog! Absolutely brilliant, well for some members of the crowd anyhow. As a sad paper collector there was no way I was ripping my programme and I happily paid extra for my brew!

Saturday 3rd December 2011
FA Vase 3rd Round
Squires Gate 0-4 Staveley Miners Welfare
Attendance: 70

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