AFC champions chase the treble

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AFC Blackpool 2, Irlam 1

BLACKPOOL were presented with the Vodkat first division champions’ trophy yesterday and there may well be more silverware to find space for at their Common Edge ground in the coming days.

AFC have two cup semi-finals to look forward to after coming back from behind with two goals in the final six minutes of this Vokdat Challenge Cup tie.

Stuart Parker’s side defended well against a very strong wind in a goalless first half which brought nothing more than half-chances.

With the elements in the favour after the interval, AFC couldn’t break the Irlam defence down and fell behind with 15 minutes remaining, when Chris Palmer’s free-kick found a hole in the wall.

But AFC’s prolific strikers Niall Cummins and Ben Waddington, both refreshed after sitting out most of Saturday’s final league win at AFC Liverpool, kept the club’s treble hopes alive with late strikes.

First Cummins got on the end of a free-kick by substitute James Walker to equalise, then further Blackpool pressure resulted in a 90th-minute penalty converted by Waddington.

Infringements while the spot-kick was being taken resulted in the visitors having a player sent off. Blackpool should have punished them further with a third goal, but Waddington attempted to tee-up Cummins when it would have been more straightforward to score himself.

Still, Blackpool’s place in Saturday’s semi-final was secured. They will visit a Winsford side that finished third in the premier division but came within two minutes of going out at Formby before sealing a 2-1 extra-time win.

Before then, Blackpool return to Common Edge tomorrow for the semi-finals of the league’s First Division Trophy.

The visitors will be last Saturday’s opponents Liverpool, who won through on penalties yesterday after equalising in the last minute of extra-time against Norton.

It leaves little time to celebrate yesterday’s trophy presentation, which Parker summed up as “a great occasion which the players had worked so hard for.”

Blackpool: Speight, Fawcett, Baker, Ford, Carroll, Stayte, Muscroft, Ashall, Baird, Waddington, Cummins; subs: Walker, Beattie, Betteridge, Brown, Rothwell.