Hogan Cup finals round-up
The Blackpool and District Youth League's Hogan Cup finals were staged for the first time at Fleetwood Town's Highbury Stadium and a fantastic Sunday was enjoyed by all those playing and spectating.
Perhaps the match of the day was the under-15s final, in which Kirkham recovered from 2-0 down to beat Clifton Rangers in a penalty shootout.
Theo Ioannou put Clifton ahead just before the break and Alfie Tomlinson doubled their lead midway through the second half.
It looked all over for Kirkham Blues but the outstanding Kian Menzies pulled one back from a free-kick, then crossed in the very last minute for Jaay Marolia to head the equaliser and force a shootout.
Kirkham missed their second spot-kick but a Harry Smith save from the next penalty immediately levelled things up again.
A second Clifton miss proved decisive as Kirkham netted their other three, Menzies fittingly netting the winning spot-kick for a 4-3 success.
Delighted Kirkham manager Mark Sevens said: “We have done the double and will finish with a 100 per cent record if we win out final game.
“That would mean we’ve gone one better than last season, when we won the league but lost a game.”
Clifton captain Jack Butler was the official man of the match.
The finals in the three youngest age groups all featured BJFF Blaces, who won two of them.
However, BJ had no answer to Kian Makepeace of Thornton Cleveleys Reds, who made the under-14 final his own.
The striker’s man-of-the-match display included goals on 7, 13 and 57 minutes to seal a 3-0 victory.
Reds manager Keven Davies was just as impressed by his side’s defending and all-round effort as with Makepeace’s clinical finishing.
He said: “We’ve done the double after winning the league. After winning all 17 league games, we’re going for the 100 per cent record in our final game against Kirkham.”
Their only defeat of the campaign was in the Lancashire Cup final.
The Blades were winners in the under-13 final, defeating Clifton Rangers 3-1.
Two goals from Daniel Smith in the first half set them on their way, though Jamie Benson-Brookfield pulled one back for Clifton.
But as they pushed for an equaliser, the Blades defence stood firm and no-one more so than captain Daniel Inman, who was the man of the match.
Smith’s fellow striker Owen Mason broke to put the game beyond doubt and manager Darren Brown aims to complete the double.
“One win from the last two games will do it,” said Brown, whose side are unbeaten in the league for three years.
As for the final, he said: “It was a good game and there was everything to play for until last 10 minutes.”
Liam Brown was also outstanding for BJ, while the official man of the match was midfielder Jake Guy.
The Blades also won the under-12 final, defeating Foxhall 3-0.
An evenly-contested first half ended goalless, but then man of the match Matthew Finney scored two for BJFF before a stunning strike from outside the box by Ryan Harwood put the result beyond doubt.
The Blades are also going for the double in this age group, needing just one point from two games to seal their league success.
Manager Lee Willetts said: “We’ve already won the Saturday league, so it’s been a great season.”
The two senior age groups staged exciting Hogan Cup finals at Fleetwood Town on Sunday.
The Under-16 clash between Foxhall and AFC was the first match of the day and lived up to its billing as a battle of the champions.
Alpha division winners Foxhall untimately got the better of Beta league winners AFC Blackpool 2-0.
It was a tight game and the deadlock was finally broken when Lee Ashton smashed home for Foxhall.
The second half saw the Tangerines press for an equaliser, with man of the match Declan Penn pulling the strings, but with 10 minutes to go their hearts were broken when the pacy Aaron Waterfield ran clear to seal victory for the Hoops.
The win sealed the league and cup double for a Foxhall side unbeaten in two years.
Foxhall manager Colin Smith said: “They were champion teams and we both missed chances, but we scored the two that mattered.”
First-half hero Ashton, who played up front and scored the opener, has earned a deal with Carlisle United – as a goalkeeper.
AFC hit the woodwork twice and their manager Martin Baird said: “We competed well but it was just one of those days. We’ve had a barbecue and got over it. These lads have enjoyed their football this season, which is the main thing, and I’m really proud of them.”
AFC Blackpool also missed out in agonising style in the Under-18s final, 3-2 against FC Rangers Blues.
League winners AFC led 2-1 inside the final 10 minutes but lost to an injury-time penalty.
The Blues drew first blood when Rob Hanslip scored after around 20 minutes.
AFC soon equalised when Adam Warrington rose highest at a corner to head home before Connor Slade put theTangerines ahead.
It stayed that way until just nine minutes from time, when Rob Oxley equalised after rounding the keeper.
As the clocked ticked into stoppage time, the game looked to be going to penalties but then a penalty was awarded for a foul by the Blackpool keeper and Josh Errington smashed home the winner.
Kyle McCullough, battling in a lone striker role for the Blues, was man of the match.
Winning manager Dale Azzopardi said: “In the second half we stuck to the gameplan, controlled the match and ran out winners.
“It’s a good end to an up and down season. Half the team changed since the start of the season but we were still in contention for the title until AFC beat us a few weeks ago.”
AFC manager Rob Connolley said: “They dominated the second half, so we have no complaints, but we’ve won the league title and that’s some achievement with a team of predominantly Under-17s in an Under-18 league.
“We have our last game on Sunday and we receive the league trophy then, so the lads will be smiling again.”