Southport 0 Darwen 4

DARWEN pulled off one of the biggest shocks in their history last night and booked a place in the final of the Lancashire ATS Trophy thanks to veteran two-goal hero Paul Baker.

Player-boss Steve Wilkes was ecstatic after his magnificent Anchormen made a nonense of the four Division gap separating Darwen from the struggling Sandgrounders.

"I couldn't have asked for more from the lads - they gave me everything," said Wilkes.

"Without a shadow of a doubt it's one of the best moments of my footballing life.

"I know people will look at the result and say Southport must have played their reserves but at least seven of their team had played in the first team this season."

The Nationwide Conference outfit, who included players of the calibre of former England semi-pro international Brian Ross and £16,000 signing Lee Trundle, were simply no match for the Anchormen.

It was Baker who set them on their way with a stunning strike on 12 minutes.

Latching on to a long clearance from keeper Lee Purvis, he lashed an unstoppable half volley into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Steve Lynch headed over from eight yards out before Baker capitalised on a defensive mix up to slot home the second on 32 minutes. A crude challenge from Trundle saw the ex-Chorley striker receive his marching orders two minutes before half time.

And though the home side stepped up the pace in the second half, defensive duo Dave Barnes and Neil Durkin were outstanding at the heart of the Darwen rearguard.

A slide-rule ball from Wilkes sent Lynch away on 60 minutes and his cross was stroked home by Michael Douglas from eight yards.

And after Baker and John Whittaker missed further golden opportunities, Douglas dispatched the fourth from the penalty spot with five minutes left after Phil Bolland pushed over Whittaker in the box.

"I still can't believe," said Wilkes, whose side now face Morecambe at Deepdale next month.

"I can't wait to go back to North End and it's something we'll all relish when it comes."

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.