Magic McAlpine seals Shield crown

Conn Methven and Brett Dawson battle for the ball.
Conn Methven and Brett Dawson battle for the ball.
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Thornton Cleveleys upset the odds to defeat Fylde coast rivals Blackpool Wren Rovers and be crowned kings of Lancashire.

Former Fleetwood Town trainee Michael McAlpine pounced on 83 minutes to stun Wrens in the Lancashire FA Amateur Shield final in Leyland.

Action from the Lancashire FA Amateur Shield between Blackpool Wren Rovers and Thornton Cleveleys.

Action from the Lancashire FA Amateur Shield between Blackpool Wren Rovers and Thornton Cleveleys.

Wrens dominated their West Lancashire League premier division rivals for long periods but were punished ruthlessly for their profligacy in front of goal.

McAlpine strode on to a fine reverse pass before coolly slotting home to spark wild scenes among the underdogs.

Manager Steve Breakall said: “It was not a classic game. It was very nip and tuck, and both sides had chances. It’s probably the worst we’ve played for some time but I am so proud of the lads.

“It’s massive for the club just to be in the final. It was a great finish by Michael and I hope we can experience many more nights like this.”

Action from the Lancashire FA Amateur Shield between Blackpool Wren Rovers and Thornton Cleveleys.

Action from the Lancashire FA Amateur Shield between Blackpool Wren Rovers and Thornton Cleveleys.

Wrens enjoyed the majority of the possession in a cagey first half at the County Ground, with Mark Fiddler and Michael Clark orchestrating most of the favourites’ attacks. Danny Pickering headed over and then slid a shot just wide after sneaking in behind Thornton’s defence.

Brett Dawson and Phil Smith were working hard up front for Thornton but were restricted to half-chances and shots from distance.

Wrens had the best chance on the stroke of half-time, when Nick Greenall’s measured ball was seized on by Clark but he dallied too long, allowing former Blackpool defender Phil Thompson to make a terrific double-block.

The second half continued in the same vein, with clear-cut chances at a premium.

Wrens had a goal disallowed for offside on 70 minutes, while Oliver Crolla should have done better with a half-volley at the back post and Ant Pearson stabbed wide as their frustrations grew.

And they were duly punished with seven minutes left, when the industrious Phil Smith brilliantly played in McAlpine for the winner.

Thornton repelled everything Wrens could throw at them in the final minutes to seal a famous win.

Scott McNeill, manager of Wren Rovers, said: “We had plenty of chances to win the game and we didn’t take them. They had one great chance and took it.

“I remember thinking after about an hour this was not going to be our night. We’re all obviously disappointed but they had a game plan, worked hard and to be fair it worked perfectly. Congratulations to Thornton

“We now have a huge game against Charnock Richard in the league on Saturday which gives us chance to get this out of our system straight away.”

WLL secretary John Brown said: “We are very proud that again two teams have represented our league in the final. I hope our clubs will do so again next year.”