League Trophy Final Result – Longton vs Wray

League Trophy Final Result – Longton vs Wray

26 Apr

The first of two Finals this week saw Longton and Wray go head-to-head in the League Trophy Final played under the lights at Squires Gate FC in front of an expectant crowd.

With both sides looking the part – Wray in their brand new red and black kit and Longton in their traditional navy – the match got underway at 7.45pm following a thought-provoking message from SportsReach director Will Marsden on why the greatest substitute of all time wasn’t in a footballing sense, but rather Jesus Christ taking the place of our sin so that we could have eternal life.

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It didn’t take long to realise this game was going to be closely fought; both sides carried strong attacking threats with lots of pace on display and a big pitch on which to display it. The midfield battle between Stephen Harrison and Mark Ellershaw for Wray and Stephen Farrington and Jon Doyle for Longton proved a fascinating one with plenty of crunching challenges and no lack of quality on the ball.

In the 13th minute, it was Longton who struck first when Doyle picked up a loose ball in the left channel and drove the ball into the box – and there was Longton’s top scorer Tom Cobham reacting first to slide the ball home. But Wray instantly replied; a quick passing move saw George Whitaker get in behind the defence on the right side of the box and he closed in on goal before finishing confidently across the goalkeeper. Longton had led for merely 60 seconds. Whitaker with his pace and power was a constant threat all night.

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As the half wore on, there were half-chances at both ends with short spells of dominance for each side but defences were working hard to thwart the lively attackers.

After 36 minutes, Wray won a free-kick 40 yards out on the left-wing and Will Preece floated a ball into the box which wasn’t dealt with by the Longton defence; Jake Fawcett miscued an overhead-kick but the loose ball fell to Mark Ellershaw who finished brilliantly from a tight angle, half-volleying the ball in off the far post. Wray had turned the match on its head.

Again – the team that fell behind wasted little time in responding. After some neat build-up play on the right, a first-time cross from Stephen Farrington was half cleared but only to Tom Cobham who, in an instant, rifled the ball home to make it 2-2.

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It remained that way until half-time though an unfortunate injury to centre-half Ben Wallbank saw Wray having to reshuffle their backline. Fans applauded both teams off the pitch after an exciting 45 minutes.

Into the second half and Wray started brightly; Preece down the left-hand side was causing trouble with his pace and whipped a number of crosses into the box. Longton were having to do most of the defending and a triple change seemed to help Longton gain a foothold in the game once again. Within two minutes of coming on, two subs combined to put Longton back in front; a long throw from Steve Smith was flicked on and gambling at the back post was Gregg Metcalf to finish from close range. It was a fitting moment for Metcalf who has been a key player in the team for five years but has missed most of the season with a serious back injury.

With the game to-ing and fro-ing, it felt as though the next goal would be a big one. Could Wray level the score or would Longton extend their lead? It proved to be the latter; Tom Cobham headed home from a corner but the whistle had gone whilst the ball was in flight – referee Richard Sutton had blown for a penalty due to pushing in the box. Cobham wasn’t to be denied his hat-trick; smashing the ball home to make it 4-2.

Wray continued to show great spirit and endeavour and Longton goalkeeper Tom Wignall made a big save to deny George Whitaker when clean through on goal. In the end, Longton were able to see the game out and added a fifth in stoppage time through captain Stephen Farrington, hooking the ball into the net off the upright following a lofted free-kick into the box. The score-line looked comfortable but in reality, it was anything but. A tight, competitive match that could have gone either way after 60 minutes with the scores locked, but eventually saw Longton triumph by taking their chances at the right time.

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Huge thanks must go to Squires Gate FC for putting on such a great final with wonderful facilities and a lovely playing surface. Thank you to Rob Tomkins for taking some great photos on the night, and to the officials and ball boys for doing an excellent job. Credit to both teams for playing in such great spirit.

Longton 5-2 Wray
Tom Cobham 13, 38, 66 pen Gregg Metcalf 61, Stephen Farrington 90 // George Whitaker 14, Mark Ellershaw 36

Bookings: Tom Dearden (Longton), Matthew Dawson (Wray)

Man of the Match: Will Preece (Wray)


Next up – the Champions Cup Final between Lancaster and Great Ecc on Thursday night – promises to be another exciting night.

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