Blackburn Combination Cottom Cup final
Ivy Veterans 3 Whalley Range 0
at AFC Darwen
IVY Veterans clinched a memorable league and cup double thanks to an impressive second half showing.
Two goals from the lively Gary Thomas and another from captain Alan Scotting made it a perfect first season for the Veterans.
Having already clinched the league title, the Veterans – which included several former Ivy first team players who weren't quite ready to hang up the boots – shaded a first half which past largely without incident.
Thomas, a livewire throughout until cramp got the better of him in the latter stages, should have opened the scoring when he out-muscled Atif Arif but he under hit his shot as he attempted to lift it over Raheel Ahmed in the Whalley goal.
For Whalley, Mohammed Amin had certainly brought his shooting boots, going for goal at every opportunity, drilling two free kicks off target before curling another effort just wide.
With the rolling subs rule in play, both sides shuffled their packs and Ivy found that winning formula after the break.
And it was Mick McKay who finally unlocked the Whalley defence when he cleverly made room for himself on the right and crossed for Scotting to head home.
Whalley had made changes themselves and pacy widemen Abdul Lodki and Nasir Hussain gave fresh impetus to their attack. But Ivy's defence, superbly marshalled by Scotting and centre back partner Ben Quinn, were equal to them.
The champions soon doubled their lead when Chris Gallagher picked out the unmarked Hart in the middle of the park and he threaded a lovely through ball to Thomas who cut in off the right flank, raced clear of the defence and poked the ball under Ahmed in the Whalley goal. Both teams continued to rotate their subs which disrupted the flow of the game slightly.
However Ivy all but sealed the game soon after. Keeper Matt Needham’s goal kick was headed on by Gallagher to McKay who in turn flicked it over the last defender and Thomas timed his run perfectly, getting to the ball first and lifting it over the advancing Ahmed.
Ivy had chances to extend their lead and Thomas was denied his hat-trick thanks to a wonderful save by Ahmed after good work from Scott Kelly and player/ manager Carl Scott.
Scott then had a chance to get on the scoresheet but curled his effort too near the keeper.
Whalley refused to give in but did not even get the reward of a consolation goal thanks to some fine defending and goalkeeping by Ivy.
Hassen Nasseer, who was excellent all night for Whalley, surged to the byline and cut back to Lodki but his goalbound effort was hooked off the line by Glen Mullin.
Needham then did well to paw away Naseer's attempted chip after he latched on to a poor back pass from Colin Young.
Nasir Hussain curled a free kick over before Needham was in the right place to hold on to a sweetly struck volley from Amin.
But it was Whalley keeper Ahmed who saw the last of the action, acrobatically flinging himself to his right to keep out another good effort from player/boss Scott.