The sun was shining as eight teams took part in this year’s SportsReach All Day Tournament, held once again at Carnforth High School.
Taking part were guest teams from Preston City Mission, Heysham and Crown Lane; whilst regulars Great Eccleston, Loko, Longton, Fulwood and the holders, Lancaster, were also in attendance.
Preston City Mission certainly brought some colour and energy to the day with their team consisting totally of Romanian lads and playing in great spirit. As things transpired, they were the only team to breach the Great Ecc defence on the day – no mean feat.
After the group stage, eight teams became four with the semi-finals consisting of Great Ecc vs Longton, and Lancaster vs Loko.
It was Loko who took an early lead in their semi-final and they defended stoutly into the final minutes until Jonny Sudell’s low shot evaded Luke Gorst and found the bottom corner to force a penalty shoot-out where Lancaster prevailed into the final once again – looking to win the trophy for the third year in succession.
Their opponents would be decided by a penalty shoot-out in the other semi-final as Longton and Great Ecc ended in a 0-0 stalemate, despite both teams having a clear-cut chance to steal the tie with Jack Sawyer heading wide for Longton and Jack Sharples unable to finish at the other end after rounding the keeper. In the shoot-out, Adam Moat rifled home the decisive penalty after Longton had failed to convert three of their four spot-kicks.
Into the final… Great Ecc vs Lancaster, who had already played out a thrilling 4-4 league fixture just a few weeks ago. It promised to be tight once again and chances were few and far between. In the end, it was inevitable that spot-kicks would again be required and after the Great Ecc goalkeeper had saved from Martin Lewis and Matt Parker, Eccy were into an early ascendancy. But Lancaster came back into it and player-manager Dan Sudell scored a crucial penalty to keep the Blues in the final. Great Ecc still had the chance to win it through Adam Moat who again stepped up to take a match-winning spot-kick… but this time hit the inside of the post. Into sudden death we went, and ultimately it was unfortunate for Lancaster’s skillful midfielder Ryan Francis who hit the bar from 12 yards – leaving Great Eccleston triumphant as the SportsReach All Day Tournament winners in 2016.