Crown Paints 4

Danny Pilkington 2, Jamie Edwards, Karl Turner

Southport & Ainsdale 0

REVENGE was sweet for Crown Paints who booked their place in the semi final of the LFA Sunday Trophy after beating a Southport side that denied them county glory two seasons ago.

It was in 2016 that Crown Paints were beaten in a dramatic penalty shoot-out by Southport & Ainsdale after the thrilling final at county headquarters in Leyland had finished 4-4 after normal time.

But there was to be no repeat of that heartache this time around as the Darwen side produced a superb all-round team performance to reach the last four for the third consecutive season.

Two first half goals from Danny Pilkington and a strike from Jamie Edwards put Crown Paints in complete control at the break before Karl Turner wrapped up victory with a fourth goal in the second half.

The Blackburn Sunday League champions have put the LFA Sunday Trophy as their main priority and having been beaten in the final and semi final in their last two attempts, they are now hoping it will be third time lucky.

Co-manager David Lynch, who runs the team with Mikey Boardman, is hoping that lessons learnt from the last two county cup campaigns will serve them well in their hunt for silverware.

“To be honest, I think we underestimated Southport in the final and we just didn’t get going in the semi final last year,” said Lynch whose team were beaten 1-0 by eventual winners Blackhurst Budd. “But those are experiences we can learn from and as long as we don’t take anything for granted and respect whoever we play then I think we have a very good chance of winning this competition.

“We’ve gone close in the last two seasons and this is our main priority now. We would all love to win it and, as a team, I think we are better equipped this time around.”

Against Southport at a rain-swept Pleasington Playing Fields, Crown got off to the perfect start when Pilkington rounded off a fine team move to put them ahead. Edwards then forced the opposition keeper in to an error to make it 2-0 before Pilkington scored his second and Crown’s third just before the break.

A solid defensive display kept Southport at bay in the second half before Turner grabbed a fourth goal for Crown Paints.

“It was a superb all-round team performance,” added Lynch. “It was great to score four goals but what was just as pleasing was keeping a clean sheet.”

He added: “We are a very close-knit group and a lot of us have known each other for a long time. All the players play for each other and they thoroughly deserve the victory because they were all superb.”

Meanwhile, in the league, Mill Hill are up to second place in Divison One - climbing above Crown Paints - thanks to a 5-2 win over The Wellington.

Ryan McClean scored a hat-trick with Danny Stafford and Matt Woodhouse also on target. Liam Bell and Wes Leliuga replied for Wellington.

Chris Trott also bagged a treble as leaders Longshaw beat Ewood Blues 5-0 with Corey Cook and Charlie Slater completing the scoring.

In Division Two, Whinney Hill Colts have moved three points clear at the top thanks to a 6-1 win over Observatory while second-placed Anchor were held to a 1-1 draw by Cherry Tree. Great Harwood Rovers have moved to within two points of Anchor thanks to a 2-0 win over Helmshore Harriers while Blue Star enjoyed a 5-1 victory against Accrington Old Boys.