Rovers won the Lancashire Senior Cup for a 20th time as Sam Burns scored twice to give them victory over Wigan Athletic at Leyland.

Despite their dominance, they had to come from behind, trailing to a Chris Sze header, but that was shortlived as Burns’ double came either side of a Joe Nolan strike.

Were it not for an excellent display from Wigan goalkeeper Owen Mooney then the margin of victory would have been much greater, but Rovers were still able to defend their Senior Cup title with some comfort.

The competition was halted in 2020, and then shelved for a year in 2021, with this game some 18 months after Rovers had booked their place in the final courtesy of a semi-final penalty shoot-out win over Preston North End.

Rovers named a strong side, 14 of the matchday 16 having featured for the first-team in pre-season so far, central defender Ash Phillips and substitute ‘keeper Aidan Dowling the two exceptions.

It was a particularly attacking line-up, with Sam Burns and Connor McBride on the flanks, with Dan Butterworth playing off Jack Vale who was quickly into the action, a run from the right took him into the box, his pull-back finding its way to Dan Pike who dragged a shot wide of the near post.

It was then the turn of McBride and Butterworth to link-up as Rovers threatened an opening goal in the early stages. McBride delivered first time after a short corner, his cross glanced goalwards by Butterworth, though Owen Mooney was well placed to save.

Another right-wing corner, delivered by Pike, was met by Vale, though his header didn’t come down in time, much to the relief of Mooney.

Before the game had even reached 10 minutes, Rovers had a fourth chance, McBride’s ball over the top finding Butterworth whose ambitious effort on the half volley required a smart save from Mooney at his near post.

It felt like a matter of time before the opening goal came, and Rovers thought they had it in the 15th minute, good link-up play allowing Burns to square for Vale, and after his shot from 12 yards was saved well by Mooney, the follow-up from Joe Nolan was well blocked.

Still the chances came, the 20 minute mark not even reached by the time Vale had a shot blocked, his follow-up well kept out by Mooney who was the one man keeping the scoreline level.

And then, with their first foray forward, the Latics took the lead. The left back trialist delivered an excellent cross from the left, Chris Sze’s header finding its way into the corner, despite Jordan Eastham getting a hand to it.

If you weren’t already wondering how Rovers hadn’t scored, you were left scratching your head again seconds later, Vale freeing Burns who was away from the last defender, and despite lifting a shot over the keeper, it drifted wide of the target.

Rovers weren’t behind for long however, finding an equaliser within two minutes of going behind. A deep ball to the far post was knocked across goal by McBride to Burns who cushioned a header into the corner.

Lenni Cirino was playing with the confidence of a player who made an impact on the first-team stage two days earlier, a cross sent in from the left was asking to be turned home, but Burns only the stretch couldn’t guide his header on target.

Mooney was back in the action soon after though, tested by a Pike long-ranger, the ‘keeper getting across well to his left to turn it to safety, just evading McBride who was wanting to tap in had any rebound come his way.

There was time for Mooney to make one more good stop before the break, again diving away to his right, this time to keep out Burns’ strike from the right edge of the box, his string of important saves the reason why the score was level at the break.

No changes at the break in personnel, while the second half started in a similar fashion to the first, Rovers continuing to press, and they should have led four minutes after the break. Vale crossed from the right to find Cirino making good ground at the far post, though the contact on his diving header could only send the ball over the top.

A second goal wasn’t long in the making, though it required two attempts to beat Mooney. The ‘keeper had initially saved well when Nolan found himself in the clear, but he could do nothing about the follow-up that nestled in the back of the net.

A frustrating search for a third goal then began, balls flashing across the six yard box with great regularity, Vale’s square ball unable to find McBride who was free for a tap-in just before the hour.

The two-goal cushion they craved arrived in the 64th minute, a lightning quick break from a defensive free kick saw Vale put Burns clear, and this time the attacker was able to shoot beyond Mooney to huge relief.

The Wigan ‘keeper was standing between Rovers and a comprehensive victory, a fine save at the midway point of the half saw him deny Butterworth whose well-hit shot from 12 yards out from a Vale pull-back looked destined to find the net, but for his strong palm away.

A Burns hat-trick would have sealed a good night for Rovers and he would have had it after being played through by Butterworth were it not for an outstretched leg from Mooney.

Chances dried up in the closing stages, though there was time for Mooney to keep out a Pike strike from distance, the ‘keeper the difference between a much bigger margin of victory.

Rovers: Eastham, Pike, Annesley, Phillips (Saadi, 80), Cirino, Nolan, Weston, Butterworth, Burns, McBride (Brennan, 75), Vale (Gilsenan, 75)

Subs: Dowling, Durrant