Blackpool do the double – Lancs Trophy winners & Div 2 Champions
Blackpool won the Lancashire Trophy Final v Blackburn Northern by 3-2 in the most thrilling of circumstances, with a golden goal 27 seconds into extra time after equalising in normal time with a penalty stroke just before the full time whistle.
Blackpool were back in the final of the cup competition they won 4 years ago in a 6-5 extra time thriller. However half of that winning team has been lost but the new team is even stronger having won back to back championships of Division 3 & 2 of the North West league and playing with confidence and style with a blend of experience and youth.
Blackpool’s team and supporters arrived en masse by coach in plenty of time before the start at the neutral ground of Formby on a cold, wet and windy day. Regular players Steve Whitley and Rob Dingle were unfortunately unavailable but there was a full squad with plenty of options for captain Nick Rainbow to pick from. The starting line-up was Rainbow, Brookes, O’Hara, Abbott, Bury, Currey, Thomas, Woodman, Payne (Josh), Swaine and Morgan.
The match started at a furious pace with both sides showing skill on the ball and quick passing moves up and down the pitch. Blackpool looked the marginally better team and created some half-chances with Josh Payne and Jay Currey linking well on both wings with the dual strikers Ian SwaIne and Dave Morgan.
After 15 minutes Ian Swaine had a great chance to score when left with a shot o goal within the D but it went narrowly wide. It was set up from a hit by Sam Bury which Josh Payne controlled well before laying off to Dave Morgan who slipped it to Swaine.
In the manner of the end to end play, minutes later Nick Rainbow was made to make a save halfway up the goal when a shot out of nowhere came from the top of the D.
Blackpool broke the deadlock with the first goal after an attack down the right flank led to the ball arriving at Simon Thomas who shot hard at goal, and Josh Boyne, fresh from the subs bench, was well placed for a deflection into the goal. However the lead was short lived as just three minutes later Blackburn counter attacked and had a 3 v 3, managed to find a player unmarked in the D who shot past the diving Rainbow in goal.
It was a full half an hour before either side won a short corner to try out their respective routines. Blackpool won theirs first but wasted the chance. A minute later Blackburn had their chance, and although their fabled drag flicker didn’t score outright, the shot slid across the AstroTurf and hit a defender’s foot in front of goal, leading to a penalty stroke being awarded. It was duly dispatched giving Blackburn a 2-1 lead, and half-time came shortly after.
The second half continued in the same vein, with more gaps opening up, and both sides at each other like hammer and nails. Blackpool had a couple of consecutive short corners but again nothing came of them. Similarly Nick Rainbow was forced to save some challenging shots from Blackburn’s short corners. Simon Thomas had a strike on goal in open play but it went wide.
The end to end play continued, with The Blackpool defence of Dec O’Hara, Rob Abbott , Craig Brookes and Sam Bury mopping up the pressure and providing the starts for counter attacks. There was a strange incident when a Blackburn player lost his stick when trying to clear a ball from his own D, and it went flying out into the midfield. The umpires had to confer as to what to do and eventually decided to award a short corner to Blackpool. From this, Dave Morgan slipped to Ian Swaine who flicked the ball towards goal, but it hit a Blackburn player, however the umpire ordered a defensive free hit for dangerous play, rather than allowing it as a shot on goal. This and other decisions led to too much backchat and minutes after Swaine was given a green warning card, Dave Morgan was given a yellow card and a 5 minute sin-bin.
The minutes were ticking down, and Blackpool were running out of ideas, desperate for a goal to level the scores. Even with regular substitutions they started to look tired, but Simon Thomas in midfield continued to fight. Morgan came on for the last few minutes, and perhaps it was the added impetus, as a last gasp attack forced a goal mouth scramble, and the umpire blew for an infringement which he saw stopped a chance on goal by Blackpool. He signalled for a penalty strike and the travelling Blackpool crowd went mental. It was clear that the clock had run down, it already felt like “Fergie-time”, the pressure was on for Blackpool to score the equaliser. Ian Swaine stepped up and coolly struck the ball low and firmly to make it too difficult for the Blackburn to save.
2-2 and the team and crowd were jubilant. The cheers could be heard back in Blackpool! As soon as the two teams assembled for the restart the final whistle was blown.
There were a few minutes as the umpires checked on the competition’s rules, aided by smartphones, and confirmed that a golden goal would win the tie in extra time otherwise it would go down to penalties. Blackpool were reminding themselves of their previous extra time golden goal and the fact that they might have a momentum advantage temporarily whilst Blackburn’s hopes had been cruelly snatched away in the final minute of normal time.
Seconds after the restart for extra time, a long ball from Dave Morgan through the centre of midfield went direct to Ian Swaine. He beat the last defender, entered the D, and with the goalkeeper starting to advance, coolly squared the ball left to Josh Payne who was running in space, and he slotted home into an empty goal.
3-2 and the win, with the whole team chasing Josh Payne the length of the field in a mad celebration, and the majority of the crowd also jumping up and down, waving their flags and shaking their clackers. Blackpool had won the Lancashire Trophy for the second time, and completed the double with the Division 2 championship, making it the best ever season for the team. The team and supporters duly celebrated in Formby CC’s bar, the coach back to Blackpool, the home clubhouse of Blackpool CC, and into town to the main sponsors Walkabout, and who knows where after that!