Welcome back, it's nice to see you have returned to my website in the new year to read the fifth blog of this 2021/22 football season, and this one is full of news stories and more high action quality images.
I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year with your family and loved ones. It's beginning to feel like the norm to celebrate these special occasions with low numbers, but what has been good is that the football has continued, and both clubs and supporters have been able to watch their teams live.
My year started at Bloomfield Road - the home of Blackpool FC - as Fleetwood Town's last fixture in 2021 and their first fixture in 2022 was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the camp. I wanted to make the most of being able to shoot at a new venue - which was good for me in terms of keeping things fresh with stadium shots and working under different conditions to stadium lights, venue and the speed of the football itself.
Neil Critchley's men were in need of a win after a couple of bad results, and they did it the hard way that's for sure! The Seasiders managed to win 1-0 against Hull City on home soil, with forward Gary Madine scoring from the penalty spot midway through the first half - unfortunately I missed the goal due to being down the other end. This is where I thought I was clever, instead of getting a shot that most photographers were getting, I decided to get my 70-200mm lens out and get the fans reaction.
Due to working for Fleetwood Town, normally I would be always behind the goal that my team were shooting at, but due to working on spec, I thought I could be a little bit more creative and shoot different elements inside the stadium, hence why I decided to go for this shot of the fans with their arms / hands in the air.
Hull City went close on a number of occasions late on in the match on the Fylde Coast, and if it wasn't for goalkeeper Daniel Grimshaw between the Blackpool sticks, it could have easily finished 1-1 meaning a share of the points. A great win for Critchley's men before their FA Cup clash against League Two, Hartlepool United. Here are more shots from the match at Bloomfield Road.
A week later it was back on Club duty with Fleetwood, and it was a trip across the Pennines to Doncaster Rovers. Town have played some big six pointers in the last few months, and this was another with both teams in / around the relegation places. Doncaster have won one of their last five matches, and sat bottom of the table before kick-off. Fleetwood were just inside the relegation zone, with a win pushing them inside the safe zone due to Morecambe being in cup action.
Well the day started off well, on our way to the stadium, we got stuck in two traffic jams which at one point nearly meant we were missing the start of the game. If people know me, they know I like to get to anything way in advance to give me time to set up, get my bearings and also to be prepared. After some clever driving, we managed to get their at 2:30pm - yes I know... We left it late, but was it worth it in the end?
By looking at the photo above, I think you know the answer. Yes, Fleetwood managed to pick up their fifth league win of the season, only their second away win of the campaign with a 1-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers. From what I could see from behind the lens, Town deserved all three points and as said earlier, it was a well needed win due to pushing them away from teams around them and taking advantage of others not playing.
New signing Ellis Harrison - who signed from fellow League One side Portsmouth at 1pm on the day of the game - grabbed the all important goal in the second half after summer signing Paddy Lane put in a lovely ball for the experienced forward to tap home right in front of the traveling fans!
Like in the Blackpool game on New Years Day, it was up to another goalkeeper to make sure all points were coming their sides way. Alex Cairns - who has been ever present for Fleetwood over the course of the last few years, pulled off three fantastic saves late in the match. A draw would have been unlucky for Fleetwood's young side.
The scenes after the final whistle were great to see. With only five wins in the league all season, you have to enjoy those winning moments and use it to your advantage with games coming thick and fast. Here are some frames from the match at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The next match saw Fleetwood back on home soil, with league leaders Rotherham United the visitors. Last time these two sides met, Fleetwood won 4-2 at the New York Stadium thanks to goals from Callum Morton, Ged Garner, Danny Andrew and Callum Camps. Let's look back at three images from the game back in September - it was a good day wasn't it?
The game on Saturday 11 January was no different - Fleetwood Town picked up all three points from the league leaders thanks to a 90+6th minute goal from summer signing, Antony Pilkington - what a moment to score your first goal for the club! The game wasn't full of chances, but you could see why Rotherham are doing so well... but in any match, if you don't take your chances you will be punished and that was on show in this match.
I will share the images shortly, but I just wanted to give Rod Allworth a shoutout. 15-years ago Rod took over the mic at Highbury Stadium and has never looked back. He has been the Club's PA announcers since 2007 and he's over seen so many memorable matches, and Saturday's win was the cherry on top of his celebration / anniversary. Congratulations Rod. I gave the announcing a go for a few games whilst you were away, but your age and experience is something I can't compete with haha - he's to many more years!
Well.... you know who scored for Fleetwood in this match - shall we crack on with the best photos of the match? All my camera gear is linked below. For this match I tried out my newly purchased Canon EOS 1DX MKII camera body. I had been borrowing it but I had to buy it off a good friend of mine. Big thank you to you if you're reading this. Your support since day one has been amazing. Enjoy the best shots from the match!
The 22nd January saw Town make the trip to the Capital to play Charlton Athletic at The Valley. A ground that has been Premier League legends grace the turf and it was up to Stephen Crainey's men to go down and maybe make it three wins from their last three.
Due to badly bruising my right thumb - my work horse behind the camera - I missed this game and the next with Fleetwood losing 2-0 at The Valley and then drawing 3-3 with Plymouth Argyle on the Tuesday night after being 3-1 down with less than ten minutes to play. I believe the squad played with so much spirit and deserved to get their point against a side who are looking up and not down.
After a week of frozen peas of my thumb, it was back to work for me as Fleetwood Town welcomed Cambridge United to Highbury Stadium. The visitors sat comfortably in mid-table before kick-off with a win more or less meaning they wouldn't need to worry to much to what was happening below them, but for Fleetwood, it was a game they wanted to pick up maximum points.
New signing Josh Harrop made his debut for the Cod Army in this fixture, however it was cut short due to picking up what looked like a hamstring pull after taking a corner in the early stages of the match. The Manchester United winger looked dangerous whilst on the pitch, giving the Town fans a glimpse of what he can bring to this young side.
There wasn't much action in the first half, with both goals in the 1-1 draw coming in the second 45 minutes. Anthony Pilkington put the ball into his own net moments after coming off the bench (very unlucky from the highlights I have seen) but in Fleetwood fashion under new manager Stephen Crainey, the Cod Army did things the hard way and came back to salvage a point. In form playmaker Paddy Lane scored a stunning goal in the 72nd minute of the game to draw things level at Highbury and what a stunner it was - just a shame the Cambridge defender ran across my frame - otherwise I would have caught this curling shot bang on the centre of the image. I managed to get the celebrations, but below are some of the best photos from the match.
That's January completed - where on earth has this first month of 2022 gone? Crazy how time flies when you're having fun! Here's to February and plenty of games install for both Fleetwood and SLF Studios!
Thank you for reading this blog. Your support is much appreciated.
WHAT CAMERA GEAR DO I USE FOR MY SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Throughout this month, I was using my Canon EOS 1DX Mark One camera body with the Canon EF 300mm f2.8 L IS USM lens, along side my new Canon EOS 1DX MKII with the Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 L IS II USM lens. I take my stadium shots and wider angle frames on either camera body, using the Canon EF 24-105mm f4 lens. If you would like to see what I use, please click on the links. If you'd like to know more on my camera set-up, please leave me message or find me on social media. Thank you!
Sam Fielding / SLF-Studios
Photos are owned by PRiME Media Images