West Lancashire League President’s Cup final
Hurst Green 1
Hesketh Bank 2
(at Charnock Richard FC)
IT has been a remarkable few seasons for Hurst Green but they will be glad to see the back of Hesketh Bank.
The Ribble Valley village team climbed out of Division Two in their first season in the West Lancashire League last year and came close to making it back-to-back promotions this term.
But those hopes have all but been thwarted by Hesketh Bank (who need one win from the last three league games) who then denied Green the chance of getting their hands on the silverware.
It was a 2-1 home defeat to Hesketh Bank last month that dented Hurst Green’s promotion hopes – a scoreline they repeated in this keenly contested final at Charnock Richard FC.
Graeme Seedall’s side will be hurting from their double disappointment but they should be proud of how far they have come in such a short space of time.
And it was a second half performance from Hurst Green that would have pleased the manager the most although, ironically, they conceded goals when they were on top and bossing proceedings.
While they looked hustled and harried in the first half as Hesketh took control, Hurst Green came out fighting after the break, upping the tempo and denying their talented opponents time on the ball.
It was two excellent saves from Adam Chester in the first half that kept Green in the game at the break – one a leaping one handed save to keep out an Adam Thompson header before palming away an effort from Daniel Birkby.
Green offered little by way of an attacking threat and their stand out performers were all in defence, James Barnes and Thomas Bartlett making crucial blocks and tackles and Martin Aspinwall shining at left back.
But it was a different story after the break.
Seedall threw on William Nolan and Daniel Walker at the break while skipper Sam Hayes moved back in to midfield and began to pull strings.
Hesketh Bank were now on the back foot as Green, with Hayes and Andy Haworth beginning to dominate in the middle of the park, forcing a series of corners.
So it was somewhat against the run of play when Bank took the lead when a partially cleared corner fell to Neil Hulme who beat Chester with a wonderful curling effort.
Hurst Green hit back and Walker slipped a ball through to Alan Coar whose firm strike was deflected just wide before Bartlett’s thumping header from Nolan’s cross was cleared off the line.
But what could have been 1-1 was soon 2-0 when Peter Henerty cut inside and out before blasting his shot beyond Chester. It was a bitter blow for Green but they refused to give in and continued to take the fight to Hesketh.
Ashley Brierley forced Seegeant to tip over before the keeper produced a fine save to deny Coar after a flowing move involving Brierley, Hayes and substiutute Christopher Scott who entered the fray to great effect.
Green finally made the breakthrough in added on time when Scott raced clear and cleverly dinked the ball over the advancing Seegeant.
Cue a frantic finale but Hesketh held firm to seal victory.