At the County Ground, Leyland, Blackpool Wren Rovers FC were up against Garstang FC in the final of the prestigious Lancashire Shield. Wren's have only lost four games all season in the league and two of those defeats came against tonight's opponents. It was to be a memorable match that would be settled in extra time after a seven goal thriller.
Watching Blackpool Wren Rovers FC has been a delight the last three seasons but despite all of the good football, great goals and entertaining games both home and away the trophy cupboard had remained bare. This season has been better than ever and with seven games left to play just two more wins and a draw will secure the Premier Division league title.
Over the last few seasons they have under-performed in Cup competitions but this season they reached tonight's Lancashire Shield final following some good performances. This is a famous competition with finals stretching back to the 1906/7 season when Hindley Central FC beat Hindley Green FC in an all Wigan final. Wren Rovers FC had previously won it twice in 1968/69 and 1970/71 after beating Colne Dynamo's and Ashton Town FC respectively.
Tonight's opponents Garstang FC are quality opposition. They'd already beaten Wrens twice in the league this season, the only team to do so, and in the 2007/08 season they beat us into second place in the league.
Wrens got off to a great start when Nick Greenall took advantage of some hesitation between keeper and defender to nip in and lob the onrushing keeper. A Rowe free kick almost extended the lead but the keeper did well to fist it clear. Garstang equalised midway through the half and dominated up until half time and were unfortunate not to go in ahead after a shot from distance hit the bar with Yeomans beaten.
Wrens started the second half on fire and deservedly regained the lead after a good spell of pressure. Rowe cut inside and saw his shot well saved but moments later the ball fell to Peter Taberner and his shot from the edge of the box crashed in off the post. Young Sharples was replaced by Steve Creelman after going down with cramp. Creelman's impact was immediate. He chased down a ball and his persistence took him past two central defenders after they had two attempts to clear. Now, clear on goal in the area from the angle, he looked up before firing a left footed drive across the keeper and into the far corner. Great composure from the substitute when it's so easy to lash it over the bar when you're not acclimatised to the pace of the game. 3-1.
The Wren's support thought it was all over but Garstang FC showed great spirit and character to bring the score back to 3-3. The third goal was a fantastic strike off the outside of the boot that gave Yeomans no chance.
Into extra time and the first period was relatively even but Wrens still had good legs. In the second period it looked to be heading for penalties until the impressive Garstang FC keeper made his one and only mistake of the night by spilling the high ball under the lights and there was Steve Creelman to gobble up the scraps and put Wrens ahead. 4-3. There was no way back for Garstang and that's how it finished.
The big crowd witnessed a memorable game of football that was a credit to both teams and the West lans league. Well done Blackpool Wren Rovers FC who kept going despite being pegged back and respect to Garstang who refused to stay down even when it looked to be all over.
The teams emerge from the tunnel on a fine Spring evening.
Meeting the dignitaries
Blackpool Wren Rovers FC 2009/10
Nick Greenall (Right) shows good early composure to lob the onrushing Garstang FC keeper. 1-0
A great start for Wrens
The Wren Rover's bench. Grievesy (half in/half out) banned from the dugout
Mr Corless Senior not overly impressed on the VIP balcony
Jack provides Taberner with a boost at the lineout
Dougie Shaw (Centre)
Garstang FC keeper 'Tiny'
Sharples challenging for the high ball
Greg Levi (Left) – Wren's regular (Right) on the pies
Garstang FC equalise. 1-1
Volcanic ash sunset
Steve Creelman makes history as he grabs a dramatic late winner for Blackpool Wren Rovers FC in the Lancashire Shield after the Garstang keeper makes a rare mistake.
Respectful applause for the runners up
Garstang FC collect their medals
Blackpool Wren Rovers FC skipper Conn Methven lifts the trophy
Lancashire Shield winners 2009/10 – Blackpool Wren Rovers FC
The management team alongside Conn Methven and the Lancashire Shield
The celebrations begin
Jack 'The hat' Sharples shows good ball control
Kev Kennerley in the middle of a Strongbow shower alongside keeper Ryan Yeomans
Danny Pickering (Right) with Mark Williams
Peter Taberner with the Cup
Proud manager Dave Worthington celebrates with champagne. Keith Robb (Right).
Congratulations to Chairman Dave Brewell and all at Blackpool Wren Rovers FC – now bring us the league title.
Final score : Blackpool Wren Rovers FC 4 – 3 Garstang FC (After extra time)