Lancashire FA Sunday Trophy final
Ossie St Mary’s 4
IT WILL probably go down as the most dramatic LFA Sunday Trophy final in recent years – and Ossie St Mary’s will be remembered as the team who didn’t do things by halves.
After the great escape in the quarter finals and the penalty shoot-out win in the semis, the Saints left it until the last 10 seconds to win a truly enthralling cup final at the County Ground.
The Saints have been no strangers to high drama in their march to the final.
Down to nine-men in their quarter final against holders Cleveleys WMC, Ossie fought back to win 3-2 with another late winner.
In the semi final, it was the small matter of a nerve-jangling penalty shoot-out that saw off Aspull – but that was only after the Saints had thrown away a two-goal lead.
However, the final was a whole new level.
With time virtually up and another penalty shoot-out looming, Jason Ashworth – as he had done in the quarter final – scored the most dramatic of late winners.
It was the final chapter in a pulsating game that either side could have won. It was action packed from first minute until the dying seconds.
Ossie could have been down to 10 men within 60 seconds when keeper Dan Bury, hero of the semi final shoot-out win against Aspull, raced off his line and pole axed Tim Astley.
The referee deemed Astley was racing away from goal – he was after Bury had flattened him – and brandished a yellow card in the direction of the Saints shot-stopper.
But from the resulting free kick, Astley gained his revenge, turning the ball home as Saints defenders dithered Saints looked nervy in the opening stages and could well have been 2-0 down when Nathan Taylor – the former Gretna and Celtic striker – released Astley who scampered clear but dragged his shot across goal.
But the Hyndburn side began to find their footing and began to believe.
Full back James Heywood forced a smart save out of Jamie Roche who was then quickly in to action to deny Callum Coyne. The Saints were now on top and Ashworth raced on to a Gary Holt flick-on only for Andrew Foster to produce a great last ditch tackle.
Chances kept on coming – Matt Hindle and Ben Tattersall both volleyed over – but the Saints could not find a breakthrough and trailed at half time. But they turned the final on its head within five minutes of the restart.
First, Dom Mulkerrin raced on to a through ball before drilling his shot beyond Roche.
He then turned provider, crossing low for Coyne to ram home from close range – a move started with some excellent individual skill by full back Mark Clitheroe.
The Saint were well on top but there were a few more twists and turns to come.
In a rare foray upfield, Boro drew level when Ben Fielding volleyed home from eight yards.
It was a final you just couldn’t take your eyes off, underlined by the next goal when a Boro attack broke down and Coyne showed great control to spin away from Sean Doyle then kept his cool as he raced in on goal and buried his shot firmly passed Roche.
The Saints were back in control but Littleborough were in no mood to surrender without a fight.
But time was against them. Kershaw forced Bury in to a good save before Astley went close again.
It was desperate stuff from both sides and with just four minutes remaining, Kristian Evans bundled the ball home after an almighty goalmouth scramble to make it 3-3.
Incredibly, neither side were prepared to settled for the shoot-out and went for the winner.
Bury produced a stunning low save to deny Evans while Roche did likewise to deny Coyne his hat-trick.
But with two minutes and 50 seconds of the three added-on minutes gone, the Saints had one last chance.
Coyne swung in a deep cross that Roche flapped at and missed. Mulkerrin headed the ball back in to the path of Ashworth who, with so much at stake, showed great composure to pick his spot for the winner.
It was the most dramatic of endings to a cup voyage that these Ossie St Mary’s players will never forget.