Houlihan’s Birkenhead Sunday Association Football League round-up, 26 March 2023

The joys of shock and surprising results in The Tony Houlihan Memorial Challenge Cup were the order of the day in The Houlihan’s Birkenhead Sunday Association Football League.

The most notable involved Maxwell Barbers Division One side Eastham Rangers Colts in their debut season after beating Premier Division co-favourites and current holders Woodchurch Hotel 4-3 on penalties after the game finished 3-3 at 90 minutes.

On the mark for Woodchurch Hotel were Jordan Deer with a double and Danny McLaughlin. Marksmen for Eastham Rangers Colts were Andy Rogers, Ollie Lloyd, and Jim Ludbrook. Eastham will meet KRCT Bidston in the semi-final on Easter Sunday after they disposed of 10-time winners Queens Park 2-1. Dava Bowe and Vinnie O’Toole did the damage while Tom Black replied for Queens Park.

Rig Move, who are also in their debut season in Maxwell Barbers Division One, secured the final place in the semi-finals after sinking Premier Division Great Float S&S 4-0. Lee Ludgate hit a smart double and added to singles from Shaun Weaver and Daniel Page. They will meet seven-times winners Dock AFC, also on 9 April.

The giant-killing acts continued in the David Tacey Cup Quarter Finals, with third division side Old Parks claiming a great achievement, defeating cup holders and second division outfit Saughall FC (Owen Wharton) 4-3 on penalties after both sides were locked at 1-1 at the end of the normal regulatory time. Old Parks are set to meet Cheshire Cheese in early April.

Whitby Rangers (Kie Fair, Brad Bland, Mike Ellery) lost only their second game of the season, each in cup ties. This week’s loss was against Wellington FC (5-3), who they have to meet again in the WDFA Sunday Amateur Cup Final (date and venue to be confirmed.) Wellington’s strikes came from Ellis Jones with a treble and from singles by Nathan Leyland and Billy Rainbow. Whitby are still chasing silverware with another final on Thursday 13 April in The Tony Smith Final at Villa Park the home of Ashville FC versus Prenton FC with a 7.00pm kick off. Whitby also have a number of games in hand in Division Two as they will chase down the leading pack.

A four-goal haul from Adam Lea for Dock AFC was pretty much plain sailing to outpoint current champions Rock Ferry Social 4-0. Dock AFC is still in the mix for five trophies. They have a very busy seven-week period coming up with two cup finals, (Cheshire Sunday and The WDFA Sunday Premier Cup), two semi-finals, (The Tony Houlihan Memorial Challenge Cup and Veronica Conway Premier Cup), added to the League Championship. It is a huge challenge for any club.

Rock Ferry Social are still in pole position and have the points in the bag, but with this defeat, that title could be slipping away.

Beechwood FC enhanced their chances of lifting the Ryan ‘Gigsy’ Atherton Trophy with a 3-1 win over Neston Nomads (Dean Jones), Evan Perry, Rob Cull, and Morgan Woods netted for Beechwood.

With most of the top teams yet to play each other in the final run in the Jewel in the Crown could go anywhere, with a mouth-watering few weeks to watch it all unfold.

In The Maxwell Barbers Division One, a comparable tale exists wherein only two spots are assured for advancement to the coveted Premier Division, leaving six clubs vying for those positions.

It was a goalless draw between second-placed JPL Jets who hosted leaders Bushell Athletic. Bushell have two games in hand and are one point behind. The other four chasing clubs will be rubbing their hands. This could be a more interesting run in than the Premier Division.

Upton Town, who have numerous games in hand and are currently in sixth place, did their chances no harm in a local derby with Woodchurch Rovers (Hayden Berry, Liam Guy, Ryan Thompson) running out 7-3 winners. Goal-getters for Upton Town were Callum Mernock, Brendan Doherty, Matthew Easterbrook, and Liam Healy and Adam Ledgerton with a double each.

Wirral Radio (Shane Neermul, Bradley Greer) accounted for AFC Shaftes (Matt Walsh) 2-1.

Joint favourites to win Division Two, Bedford FC, kept their unbeaten league record intact with a firm 1-0 win at Victoria Vaults.

Second placed Prenton FC recorded maximum points with a 6-3 result at Barkers Armchair FC (Mike Searson (2), Sam Price). Luke Wynne helped himself to a four timer along with singles from Matty O’Shea and Callum Riley.

There are seven teams chasing three promotion places, but Barcodes FC may have had their chances dented after Poulton Victoria S&S hit them with a 4-0 romp after Tom Price bagged pair and further efforts from Carl Hadden and Liam Jameson.

Lions FC got back to winning ways securing a 2-0 win (pictured) over Glenavon Athletic to give themselves an outside chance of a quick return to the Maxwell Barbers Division One, after Sam Langan and Ameel al Gamri found themselves on the scoresheet.

The strength of The Houlihan’s Birkenhead Sunday League is proven with nine clubs in Division Three all chasing down three promotion places. Leaders West Kirby United (Luke Austin), who have a seven-point lead at the helm, fell to a rare defeat at the hands of AFC Rangers 4-1, thanks to efforts from Lewis McKnight (2), and one each for Peter McNulty and Chris Caress. AFC Rangers are one of five teams who have seven games in hand.

Jordan Crowder recorded a hat-trick of penalties, supplemented by an Aiden Middleton strike for Eastham Rangers, to take the honours in a 4-1 game with AFC Raeburn.

Eastham Rangers have only played 50% of their league fixtures and will have a full dress rehearsal in midweek (Tuesday 28 March) with Higher Bebington Kelma. The two teams will also face each other in The WDFA Sunday Junior Cup Final on Sunday 2 April at Ashville FC with an 11.00am kick off,

Higher Bebington Kelma are in fine form as they found the net five times in consecutive weeks. Liam Atherton led the way with a treble and Ethan Mort and Tom Weaver both chipped with a goal each at AFC Tima who replied via a Mike Redgrift double 5-2.

Jimmy Core finalists, Athletic VH and Wirral Athletic (Harry Huggins, OG) both had a share of the spoils with Parkgate St Germain 0-0 and Oval FC (John Skipsey, James Broadbent) 2-2.

The Houlihan’s Birkenhead Sunday Association Football League are now accepting applications from new prospective clubs to join the League for the 2023-2024 season, a limited number of vacancies are available also a proposed Youth Division for the same season that is scheduled to start in August 2024, any Youth clubs that wish to enter two teams can do so, one team will be known as Youth U/18’s and a second team is normally known as a Colts U/17’s, please visit the League website for contact details.

Images: Lions FC (Blue) v Glenavon PLF Athletic (Grey) – Credit: Bob Shaw

Premier Division

1.ROCK FERRY SOCIAL16414610102438281032
2.WOODCHURCH HOTEL FC1333061094038142431
3.BEECHWOOD FC1332052184129141528
4.DOCK FC1120360080329151424
5.QUEENS PARK FC132144116252820820
6.GREAT FLOAT SPORTS & SOCIAL FC102111413522319414
7.NESTON NOMADS141152233382230-812
8.LANCELYN GLENAVON130322152471834-1610
9.CORSAIR PV142250142391932-139
10.KRCT BIDSTON FC1510801511132361-384

Division One

1.BUSHELL ATHLETIC1431262093229131630
2.JPL JETS1232160092141113029
3.CHESHIRE CHEESE FC1240241181342132925
4.WELLINGTON FC1132140172231191223
5.EASTHAM RANGERS COLTS104111305412316719
6.UPTON TOWN FC921122143228161215
7.WIRRAL RADIO FC133022065082134-1315
8.RIG MOVE SERVICES FC92112124231716114
9.MSC EASTHAM1400521621111142-317
10.AFC SHAFTES1412601413102047-276
11.WOODCHURCH ROVERS1402701403111753-363

Division Two

1.BEDFORD FC11310700101044103431
2.PRENTON FC1470222192353153829
3.BARCODE FC166222138353224827
4.SAUGHALL FC123213036243930920
5.LIONS FC124112136242419520
6.EAGLE & STIRRUP FC133113146251818020
7.WHITBY RANGERS FC71105006103152619
8.POULTON VICS S&S143221244462333-1016
9.BARKERS ARMCHAIR FC143041244282351-2814
10.VICTORIA COLTS1511603414101549-347
11.GLENAVON ATHLETIC160170080115957-481

Division Three

1.WEST KIRBY UNITED23543641118447311641
2.OLD PARKS FC16720322104243232034
3.AFC RANGERS1641155096140241633
4.OVAL FC1651243194336231331
5.HIGHER BEBINGTON KELMA1654220374543301325
6.ATHLETIC VH162414236642621524
7.EASTHAM RANGERS123213216422417722
8.AFC TIMA153133146273437-320
9.NORTH WIRRAL SAINTS154151135283630617
10.WIRRAL ATHLETIC1832520652113559-2417
11.PARKGATE PANTHERS172232264493646-1016
12.PARKGATE ST GERMAIN1621503524101734-1710
13.AFC RAEBURN18114011112151759-425

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