Burnley Sunday League Towneley Cup final
Burnley West End 3 Burnley Athletic 2
at Padiham FC PHIL
McNicholas played the leading role in this West End hit as he made sure his side did not suffer any last minute stage fright.
The captain was the star man in the heart of the West End defence – a dominant force as Athletic attempted re-write the script.
But it was no one-man show.
The supporting cast included two-goal hero Phil Price, striker-turned- emergency centre back Sean Ruane and the out-stretched foot of Josh McMahon – never has a size nine boot been more welcome!
Westend had opened up a deserved 3-1 lead before Athletic pulled a goal back and piled on the pressure. But McNicholas put his body on the line to keep Athletic at bay with some towering headers and last ditch tackles and blocks.
Athletic had taken the lead, somewhat against the run of play when captained Marc Beckett played in Kieron Carroll to open the scoring.
Beckett should have doubled Athletic's lead soon after but somehow crashed his shot against the bar from just two yards.
Westend were level soon after thanks to some clever individual play by Price.
Receiving the ball with his back to goal, he shaped to lay the ball off but caught the Athletic rearguard off guard turned and skipped past the last defender before slotting the ball home. Both sides had chances to take the lead before the break.
For Athletic, Luke Thompson dragged his shot wide after racing on to a fine through ball by Aron Chapman.
At the other end, Price latched on to a long goal kick from Dan McNicholas, skipped around the keeper but saw his shot hooked off the line.
The Athletic goal was leading a charmed life as Ruane headed just over, Ash Bryan had a shot cleared off the line and John Klee fired wide.
However the Athletic goal was breached early in the second half when Ruane got the goal his all-action style deserved.
Westend then took a firm grip on the final when Jonny Hall's deep free kick fell invitingly for Price to poke home.
Athletic needed to respond quickly and they did just that.
Thompson latched on to a long kick from keeper Barnes but failed to lift his header over McNicholas in the Westend goal.
Carroll then made room for himself in the area but saw his shot blocked on the line. McNicholas then made a great save to deny sub Shane Kennedy after good work from Carroll.
But Athletic's first peroid of concerted pressure paid off when Alex Hobson’s drilled free kick was superbly controlled by Thompson who fired home. But as Athletic began to turn the screw, led by their battling and snarling skipper Beckett, his counterpart stood firm in the Westend defence. Time and again he was in the right place at the right time to clear the danger. But Athletic did have their chances and Thompson had a great opportunity to level matters but fired straight at McNicholas.
With time ticking away, Athletic went in search of the goal to force extra time but Westend were determined to keep them at bay.
Ruane, who moved back to centre in place of the injured Buxton, made a great clearance from under his posts.
And from the resulting corner, the outstretched foot of McMahon somehow kept out Ben Davies’ effort at the far post.
It was the last chance for Athletic and West End hung on to clinch the trophy