Blackburn Combination Birtwistle Cup final
Rishton United 4
Hole I’th Wall 2
at WEC Anchor Ground
RISHTON United completed one of the great cup final comebacks to clinch a memorable league and cup double.
The newly-crowned champions, winners for the first time since the 1930s, dethroned last season’s title winners after storming back from 2-0 down.
The final was turned on its head in two barmy minutes before the break.
Hole I’th Wall, already leading 2-0, had a penalty but Tom Langley’s spot kick was superbly saved by Kieran Ainscough.
It proved to be a pivotal moment as instead of going in 3-0 down, Rishton trailed just 2-1 when Liam Hutchinson swung in a free kick that Matthew Leaver – who moments earlier had won the penalty for Hole I’th Wall – flicked towards his own goal before Declan Campbell got the faintest of touches at the far post.
There was little to separate the sides in the first half it was just that Hole I’th Wall took their early chances.
While Jamie Taylor had one effort saved by Ben McGinty and fired another shot wide, Hole I’th Wall put away the opportunities that came their way.
Jordan Taylor-Bannister threaded a through ball to Wesley Leluigi who raced clear to slot his shot passed Ainscough.
The Rishton keeper then made another fine save to keep out a Luke Graham shot but Hole I’th Wall were soon 2-0 up when Nick Dewhurst rose to head home a corner from Luke Graham. And it should have been 3-0 when Leaver stormed in to the Rishton area and was tripped. But crucially, Ainscough guessed right to beat away Langley’s penalty.
From Rishton’s next attack, the champions were back in the game after Campbell poked home from close range. While there was confusion about his first goal, it wasn’t the case with the second. A long throw from Neville Nelson, a half time replacement, caused chaos in the area and Cambell swivelling superbly to volley home from close range.
Hole I’th Wall were then reduced to 10 men when keeper Ben McGinty rushed from his line and pole-axed Liam Hutchinson on the edge of the area.
Campbell then turned provider for Rishton, playing in captain Matthew Pendergast to drill the ball home.
And that one-goal lead was turned in to a two-goal advantage when Nelson, who made a big impact since coming on, rammed the ball home after sub keeper Robert Allen had initially saved Hutchinson’s effort.
Rishton had to remain alert and Ainscough showed why he was named man of the match with another fine save to keep out Graham’s well struck effort.