FC Bootle are looking to put the icing and the cherry on top of the cake as they look to cap off their season unbeaten.
Their 1-0 win over nearest challengers, Poulton Vics, secured back-to-back promotions for the Litherland Sports Park side as they opened up a six-point gap and for the second season running, topped the table.
It was a crucial three points for Ste Scott’s side as they marked their return from lockdown to three successive wins with the clean sheets to match.
Marine Reserves’ visit hands the league’s top goalscorer, Mark Madden, an opportunity to add to his 14-goal tally with teammate John Howard trailing three goals behind.
Last season’s curtailment of the MSC Express West Cheshire League saw Scott’s side crowned Division Three champions via an email, thanks to PPG (points per game), from the Liverpool County FA, also as a result of the pandemic their Junior Cup Final with AFC Knowsley was cancelled with no rescheduled date.
After yet another stop-start season, FC Bootle continued to onslaught up the table and once again remain unbeaten this campaign seeing their impressive run stretch to 31 wins in 34 league matches.
The Division Two trophy will be in attendance in Litherland on Wednesday evening as Scott’s side looks to round off their season with a win. The 39-year-old, speaking to Off The Park, emphasised the magnitude of the game after the disappointment of last season, “It felt like all the work had gone unnoticed and the lads deserved to pick up their trophies or at least compete for them, it was difficult.
“That’s why tomorrow for me is quite a special day, I’m happy to let the lads be on a high tomorrow, I 100% want to win the game tomorrow but irrespective of that, just being able to celebrate together. It’s been two years rather than one, tomorrow is a big day for us.” Scott said.
“I think football-wise we’ve been alright, we’ve had some really good moments, some brilliant individual performances and I have seen us play some brilliant football when we’ve been in a rhythm.” He said reflecting on the season. “In football terms, saying we have been comfortable downplays it but we’ve been controlling and I think when we have had to raise our game, we have.”
A 3-1 defeat to Howarth and Gallagher Bowl holders Heswall saw FC Bootle bow out of the competition in the quarter-finals.
Despite the defeat, Scott is keen to see his side end the season with their unbeaten league record intact, “I would hope and expect the same again that’s what principles we have tried to instil into them treating every game as an opportunity. Tomorrow will be no different, they should look to put on a show tomorrow and work harder than ever before, if they don’t they’ll need to learn from that but it’s a big day.”
Glynn Hurst’s Marine AFC Reserves make the short journey across Sefton looking to spoil the party as they eye their first win in four matches.
As the first-team reminisce over their high profile FA Cup fixture against Premier League opposition in the form of Gareth Bale and Tottenham Hotspur, the Marine Reserves – who’ll become Marine under-23s for the next campaign – undoubtedly will reflect on their first campaign in the second division as a learning curve.
The Mariners joined FC Bootle as the other promoted club from the third division, five points behind today’s visitors at the time of the season’s curtailment.
Hurst left his role as manager of the reserves, as he temporarily took charge of North West Counties First Division North side, Ashton Town, before returning to Merseyside last month. But the 45-year-old has yet to taste victory going into Wednesday’s game off the back of a last-minute equaliser from top goalscorer Darren Brannigan in their eight-goal thriller with Ashville Reserves.
Harrison Worden scored two in that draw, but the Marine midfielder is quietly confident as the youthful Rossett Park side look to end their season on a positive note.
“In the last couple games, we’ve been unlucky. Going forward, we’ve scored goals but we’ve been poor defensively. Glynn came in a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been playing football but the results haven’t come yet for us but we’ve been involved and could’ve or should’ve won a lot of the games.
“Even though they’re unbeaten, hopefully we can get a win tomorrow and cause an upset. On a whole, we’ve unlucky with injuries and suspensions for tomorrow but you never know.”
FC Bootle welcome the Mariners to Litherland Sports Park for an 18:30pm kick-off on Wednesday. Ste Scott’s side, no matter the result, will get their hands on silverware and be crowned champions of the West Cheshire Division Two.
(Featured image courtesy of Nick Gerrard)