Blackpool and District Youth League match of the week: St Anne Purples v BJFF Vipers
Our match of the week features since youth football resumed have focused on the older end of the spectrum, but the younger ones are no less pleased to be back in action.
That was clear to see at Blackpool Road North on Saturday, when under-8s teams St Annes Purples and BJFF Vipers played out an exciting contest in the Blackpool and District Youth League.
Results are not recorded at this development level, though there’s no lack of determination and desire among the players.
Nurturing skills and the sheer enjoyment of the game are paramount and both managers relished the occasion at St Annes’ home ground.
Purples manager Lee Kirton told The Gazette: “We started last year as Under-7s and a lot of the players were new to football. They have done really well, from losing heavily at first to playing in the top league and winning there.
“You’d normally play two weekends and then have one off, but we’re playing right through until the end of June, which is great for the kids.”
His Vipers counterpart, Craig Haydon, added: “It was a very good, end-to-end match against St Annes. It’s just great to see the children out enjoying their football again. It’s been manic but it’s still good fun.”
Both teams managed to stay connected during lockdown but they are delighted to be back in training and match action.
Lee added: “We were very proactive over lockdown, with fitness calls, skill drills and even a family bingo night – but we’re massively pleased to be playing again and it makes a big difference to the kids.”
Craig agreed, saying: “We had to go back to basics after lockdown with a bit of fitness work, but it’s good to see them working hard and enjoying it.
“The smiles on their faces are the main thing.”
There were plenty of smiles in evidence as the league’s other Under-8 and U7 teams showed how much they had improved their skills.
They all played in a friendly, relaxed environment, and it was great to see one team in the youngest age group enjoying their first match.
It was Hogan Cup week for the U16s and Freckleton hosted St Annes Yellows in a tie which went to penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Jonathan Bennison equalised for Freckleton after Max Robinson had given the Yellows a half-time lead.
Thirteen penalties were scored in the shootout before Yellows keeper Tom Swarbrick saved one to seal their 7-6 win.
Poulton Town also won through as man of the match Kobe Moore scored a hat-trick in the victory over Layton Clarets Juniors.
Alec Davies-Ward, John Bull, Regan Malone and Archie Addison were also on target for the victors, while Joel Walker grabbed Layton’s consolation.
The other tie saw Poulton FC win 3-1 away to St Annes Diamonds, for whom Alfie Wilkinson scored.
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