SportsReach Cup Semi-Final Results – 18th February

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It was cup semi-final day in the SportsReach League with teams in both the Champions Cup and League Trophy vying for a place in a showpiece final at the Giant Axe once again.

In the Champions Cup, Great Ecc travelled to Loko whilst Lancaster hosted impressive guest team Accrington St. John’s.

Lancaster – the Champions Cup holders – were looking to bounce back from a rare defeat the previous week but St. John’s quickly played their way into the game and in an even first half, the visitors struck first through Rob Addison. Lancaster showed their character in the second half and Michael White equalised after 66 minutes before scoring again just 60 seconds later. The game had turned on its head and there were chances at both ends for either Lancaster to clinch a third or St. John’s to force extra time. Ultimately, it was the home side who grabbed the final goal with a stoppage time penalty from Martin Lewis which confirmed Lancaster’s passage into another Champions Cup Final.

In the second semi-final, Great Ecc continued their recent fine form with a convincing win at Loko. The league’s top scorer, Dan Ball, was at it again with an early hat-trick and later added two more to finish the match with five goals. Midfielder Sam Hogarth grabbed two whilst Jack Sharples notched a hat-trick to round off an 11-0 win for Eccy. They will take on Lancaster in the Champions Cup Final at the Giant Axe – a fitting final for the league’s top two sides.

In the League Trophy semi-finals, Longton made the short journey across Preston to take on Fulwood whilst Wray hosted Quernmore – two sides who had met on numerous occasions in the cup in recent years.

At Fulwood, it was a cagey first thirty minutes as both sides battled for ascendancy. Defences were on top and there were very few chances to speak of. But after 33 minutes, Longton made the break-through when a left-wing corner was bundled in at the far post by Jonathan Bowen. With just seconds remaining of the first half, Fulwood were literally handed a lifeline when Bowen inadvertently handled the ball in box and Richard Atkinson Snr converted from the spot despite a valiant attempt from the Longton keeper. In the second half, the pace and energy of striker Luke Dean made a difference for Fulwood and within minutes of his introduction, he smashed home a half-volley from the edge of the box to put the hosts in front. Back came Longton who made attacking substitutions and Jonathan Bowen notched his second of the game with an excellent sliding volley at the far post. There were half chances for both sides to grab the winner but after 90 minutes, the teams could not be separated and into extra time we went. It was in extra time where Longton managed to find another gear and ultimately pulled away to win 6-2 with an own goal from Richard Atkinson Snr, a tidy finish from Phil Awde, followed by close range finishes from Dave Sharp and Tom Cobham.

In the other League Trophy semi-final, Wray hosted Quernmore – last season’s beaten Champions Cup finalists. The visitors were fresh off the back of a terrific win against Lancaster last week but Wray came out of the blocks in no-nonsense fashion and within 33 minutes, they were 3-0 up thanks to goals from Andrew Swinbank, Will Preece and Stephen Harrison. Quernmore fought back in the second half and reduced the deficit through Jordan Yates but Wray saw the game out to record a 3-1 win and set-up a League Trophy Final showdown with Longton at the Giant Axe.

Champions Cup Semi-Final Results

Lancaster 3-1 Accrington St. John’s
Michael White 66, 67 Martin Lewis pen 90 // Rob Addison 26

Loko 0-11 Great Eccleston
Dan Ball 5, 16, 19, 33, 65  Sam Hogarth 25, 27 Jack Sharples 37, 44, 85 Toby Parker 67

League Trophy Semi-Final Results

Fulwood 2-6 Longton (AET – 2-2 after 90 minutes)
Richard Atkinson Snr pen 45, Luke Dean 49 // Jonathan Bowen 32, 65 Richard Atkinson Snr o.g. 96, Phil Awde 100, Dave Sharp 108, Tom Cobham 112

Wray 3-1 Quernmore
Andrew Swinbank 7, Will Preece 27, Stephen Harrison 33 // Jordan Yates 70