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Big turn out for Ighten Leigh's football festival
IGHTEN Leigh Junior Football Club’s can rightly lay claim to be one of the longest and best summer competitions in East Lancashire.
The Burnley club has been staging its annual football tournament for 11 years and has attracted teams from across the region.
But rather than being held on a day or a weekend, Ighten Leigh attracts enough attention to hold the event over two consecutive weekends.
The four day event, once again held at Sycamore Playing Fields, attracted 72 teams who competed in age groups from under sevens to under 15s.
While the youngest age groups at under sevens and under eights were played on a friendly format, event organiser, Ged Cowgill, was impressed by the standard of play.
“In the youngest age group, there were six teams who played each other,” said Ged.
“The resulting games saw some wonderful football played, where players, despite their age, played passing attacking football.
“These teams will play each other in The Warburton’s Junior football league next season.”
The opening day also saw the Under 14s competition take place where seven teams battled it out for place in the knockout stages.
In the first semi final, Junior Clarets Blue ran out 1-0 winners against Briercliffe Rovers. The second semi final saw Junior Clarets Blue play Fulledge Colts with the Colts denying an all-Junior Clarets final after winning 2-1.
The final saw Junior Clarets take an early lead thanks to a goal by Arran Wilson who then doubled the lead with a goal a few minutes later.
And although Dave Midgley pulled one back for Fulledge, the Clarets held firm to win.
The Under 15s age group took place on Day Two with an impressive 16 teams battling it out in in the heat.
The first semi final saw Pendle Forest Green and Pendle Forest White clash for a place in the final with Whites winning 2-1.
In the other semi final, another Forest side were beaten 1-0 by Bacup.
The final appeared to be heading for extra time with the score locked at 1-1 with Aidan Greenwood and Arron Warner both on target. But, with time ticking away, Warner bagged a late winner for Forest.
While the first weekend was played in glorious sunshine, the second, in contrast, was played in terrible weather conditions.
But the teams, including the under eights, braved the elements.
Their league, in accordance with FA rules regarding non competitive sport at this age, saw all players leave with medals for taking part.
However, there were trophies up for grabs in the under 10s section.
Ighten Leigh booked their place in the final after beating Bacup in a tense penalty shoot-out after the match ended 1-1 after extra time.
The second semi final was an all-Belverdere affair, where Belverdere Green overcame their Orange counterparts 1-0.
The final was a closely fought affair with Belverdere Green running out winners 1-0 against Ighten Leigh thanks to a second half goal from Ewan MacAdam.
In the Under 12s, Ighten Leigh White and Ighten Leigh St Mary contested the first semi final with the Whites racing to a 3-0 victory.
Barnoldswick Barons romped to a 5-0 win against Bacup to book their place in the final where an extra time goal from Brandon Cocker secured victory.
The conditions warmed slightly on the fourth and final day of the tournament where the under nines, under 11s and under 13s finals were played.
In the first under nines semi final, an all-Pendle Forest affair saw the Blues beat the Green’s 2-0.
The other semi final was between Ighten Leigh and Bacup which Ighten leigh won 3-0.
The final was finely poised at 0-0 at the break but Forest won thanks to a well placed header from Alex Curran.
Fulledge Colts won the under 11s age group thanks to a fine goal by Caine Byker to beat Bacup Blue.
Earlier, Bacup Blue beat Brierfield Celtic with Colts ending hopes of an all-Bacup final as they beat the Yellows.
However, the last final of the competition was fittingly an all Ighten Leigh encounter.
The Purples beat Pendle Forest White 3-1 to reach the final while the Whites beat Pendle Forest Black.
The final between two teams from the host club attracted a lot of attention and second half goals by Jordan Burney and a breakaway Brad Miller strike gave the Purples victory.
The management committee of Ighten Leigh JFC thanked Jay-Care of Burnley, Warburtons Bakery, Asda and Tesco for their support.
Ged added: “Thanks also go to the managers, parents and players who attended the football tournament in what can only be described as typical British summer weather!
“And also a big thank you to all of the referees who gave up their time over the four days.”