Result: Eagle Sports 3-3 Poynton (Cheshire League Premier Division)
Venue: Thornton Road (Monday 28th March 2016, 3pm)
Att: 30 (approx.)
After having been spurned about seven times in attempting to watch my adopted Cheshire League side this season at various venues, the weather looked as though it was on its way to change my course of action once more and deny me a visit to watch Eagle Sports again. After a text through to match sec/player Danny to see the prospects of play (50/50), I decided I might as well risk the trip to Sankey and with a fall back of Warrington Town on the cards too, I was likely to get football of some sort this Bank Holiday Monday.
Eventually, as my train rattled its way over to Cheshire, the sun began to shine through the clouds and this was a more than welcome sight, especially as I disembarked at Sankey station to see the worst of the weather had looked to have evaded the area. All things were looking rosy as I headed onto the main road through the area and to the first stop of the day, the Chapel House.
It was dead in here as I arrived, with the barmaid still going through the dusting process. After politely interrupting her task with a request for a Corona, I quickly downed it and couldn’t wait to be out of there as I always find it a bit awkward to be the only one in a pub. Just to make things worse, I discovered the game had reverted back to a 3pm kick-off and not a 2.30 as I had expected. Sigh.
I figured that The Woodlands would be a better bet and there would be people about in there, so I set off down the road and found myself being passed by a coach having an identity crisis, as it’s window HUD display read “Choo, Choo. I’m a train”. Hmmmm. Anyway, into the Woodlands I went to find a sole punter and little else. Not long after I’d taken on board a Desperado, my companion from a distance left me again with barmaids cleaning their hostelry and as such I was fed up enough to head for Thornton Road a full 2 hours before kick-off. Can you imagine what atmosphere awaited me?
Yep, dead. Of course it was. The only good news was that the game was confirmed to be going ahead and the pitch looked in fine nick considering. So, I nursed my pint of SanMiguel for a full hour while listing to MTV pumping out classics like “Can’t Touch This” and “Gangster’s Paradise”. I was somewhat intrigued, though, by the ever increasing noise emanating from the next room, so after a trip to explore the facilities, I went for a look and found an indoor bouncy castle and a room full of kids and parents, here for the club’s “Family Fun Day”. I was missing out, though I felt a bit awkward being the creepy one standing at the door, so I headed outside for a look at the pitch from a closer viewpoint.
I’d not been out there too long when I was greeted by the Eagle management team Rob and Mark. “This the only game on today?” I was asked, before explaining that I really “had been trying to watch them this year, honest”! After a quick chat, I left them to their duties and headed back inside where I found a few of Eagle’s injured crew. After spending the rest of the time in here watching the terrible Mark Noble Testimonial, it was mercifully time for kick-off. But before we get into the game…
Founded in 1928, Eagle Sports began as a works football team for Electro Hydraulics. After this company merged with another company, they relocated to the Warrington area and played at a ground on Hood Lane during their formative years in the town, before competing in the Warrington & District League from 1941 and moving to their current ground shortly after.
Now known as Eagle Sports FC, the club gained a reputation as a successful one in the Warrington and District League, with numerous league and cup honours heading their way. 1993 saw, arguably, the club’s best achievement to date, as they lifted the Liverpool Junior Cup, a year after being beaten finalists.
The club only left the Warrington & District League in 2004 to join the Mid Cheshire League. They were renamed Penketh & Sankey Eagle upon their beginning in their new league and went on to win the Division 2 in their first season. Now in Division 1, the club reverted to the Eagle Sports FC name, but were relegated in 2006. After a period of struggle for a couple of seasons in Division 2, the club appointed player (and current manager) Rob Hope as boss and he saw them return to Division 1 in 2009 with a last minute goal giving them promotion as runners-up.
2012 saw the club record a successful season, with the JB Parker Cup being won for the first time and this was joined by the Warrington Guardian Cup. The next season saw Eagle retain the JB Parker Cup (I was at both finals) and they also finished up as Division 1 runners-up as they did at the end of the next season (2013-’14).
The 2014-’15 season began with Eagle winning the Cheshire League Memorial Cup at the beginning of the season (having been beaten the previous two years) and ended it with a Liverpool Cup win over Byrom. Read the blog from that game here. They recorded a 3rd place finish come the end of the last campaign.
The game got underway and was pretty quiet for the most part during the early stages. Eagle had been weakened by the loss of a few players and it definitely showed, especially in the defence, with Poynton looking especially dangerous through the middle. But in terms of chances, there was little to speak of until just before the break when Eagle took the lead, with Chris Quirk slotting in after finding himself free, 15 yards out.
After the break the game really got going and Poynton were soon level with a close range headed finish by Conor Glass after a corner wasn’t cleared. A scrappy goal, but the Poynton team and supporters certainly didn’t care one bit. They then found themselves on the back foot, though, as Eagle pressed on and had a goal ruled out for offside, before Owen Ellis’ headed effort restored their lead as he rose, unchallenged, to power home from a corner.
At 1-1 I thought “whoever scores next will win this”, with the wind blowing across the open field behind the pitch. But oh, how wrong I was. Poynton found an extra yard to their play and soon found themselves level once more. A clear penalty for a pull in the area was awarded and up stepped the forward, Joe Knight, to level confidently, sending Eagle ‘keeper Craig Clare the wrong way from the spot. 2-2 and all to play for once more.
With both sides looking for the next goal, it was a real pulsating game but it looked more and more likely that the team most likely was Poynton and this proved true when a lovely low, curled effort from Knight found its way just inside the far post. A fine strike, 2-3 to Poynton! (Thanks to Steve for the scorers for Poynton!).
But from then on, Poynton seemed to sit back and try and take their win, which was a puzzling decision if true as they were well in the ascendancy. This gave Eagle all the momentum they needed and after coming close on a couple of occasions, sub Stuart Wellstead hammered home a last minute equaliser after fine work from Quirk to create the chance. Eagle could have won it late on too if they had kept their cool in the final third, but 3-3 it finished and a fair result on the day. Credit to both teams.
After the game, it was back into the clubhouse for a final Kopparberg and a quick greet before heading back out and to the station for the train home, which wasn’t the best of journeys for one reason or another!
Damn Northern Rail but alas, this will be the last time your damned name features on these pages. Is anyone mourning their loss? No, thought not. Hopefully Arriva do the job much better and give me lots of free journeys. Worth a shot…
Game: Really good game, especially second half.
Ground: 5- Nice clubhouse/social club, but otherwise just a barred pitch.
Fans: 5- As I said in the Nelson blog, 5/6 for everyone until this rating dies for next season.
Programme: N/A, though one used to be produced, so hopefully it returns!
Value For Money: 8- Definitely worth the entry fee (free!)