Gomersal & Cleckheaton1
Ossett Town Reds 0
By Andrew Hunt
GOMERSAL and Cleckheaton edged an enthralling Blackburn Cup final, overcoming Ossett Town Reds at Liversedge FC last Thursday.
Although Gomersal captain Kayne Whitehead will take the plaudits for scoring the only goal of the game, it was thanks to wonderful display from goalkeeper Lewis Bainton that they held onto their slender lead under severe pressure.
Bainton produced a string of superb saves as Town created the better chances and without his efforts it almost certainly would have been Town who lifted the cup.
Both clubs have a tradition of providing junior football and the sides didn’t disappoint the large crowd by producing a thoroughly entertaining clash.
Town could have taken the lead as early as the fifth minute when Ryan White drilled a first time shot hard and low but Bainton produced the first of a string of excellent saves with his legs.
Gomersal produced a lovely move when Jake Inman spread the ball left and Dominic Howarth raced up the wing, beat a defender and sent over a teasing shot which Joe Saville side-footed wide.
Gomersal took a 16th minute lead when Saville played a through ball to Whitehead and as Town goalkeeper Tim Rogers came out to narrow the angle, the captain scuffed his shot.
The ball rolled agonisingly towards goal but despite a desperate lunge by centre back Waqas Awad, he was only able to help it over the line.
Town’s response was immediate and after they fired a free-kick into the wall, Alex Hall – the first of several rolling substitutes – had a great chance but blazed over from eight yards.
White was having a terrific game for Ossett and his teasing cross was headed over by Jack Lonsdale, before the winger chipped a shot tamely into Bainton’s arms.
White then produced a speculative 35-yard shot which looked to be heading for the roof of the net but Bainton backpedaled and caught it on his line.
Liam Wheeler then cut in from the left, showed great skill to twice beat a Gomersal defender before drilling a shot towards the bottom left corner but Bainton tipped it round the post to preserve the lead.
Awad ventured forward for a corner two minutes into the second half but his looping header went just over.
Whitehead made a great run down the right and sent over a fine cross which caused confusion between two defenders but as Saville was about to pounce Umar Ahmed, the first Asian referee to take charge of a Heavy Woollen District cup final, spotted a foul.
Ossett regrouped and threw men forward in the final 15 minutes only to find Bainton in inspired form.
Substitute Jaz Ahmed drilled a low shot from the edge of the area, which Bainton tipped round a post before the goalkeeper was alert to pounce on a White free-kick.
Mo Sidat looked a certain scorer after latching onto a great cross from the right with a powerful header but Bainton was well positioned to save.
Ossett saved their best chance of the evening for the final minute as White played a terrific defence-splitting pass for Sam Pashley.
Bainton raced out of goal but Pashley calmly clipped the ball under him only for it to roll agonisingly wide of the far post. Six minutes of injury time tested the nerves further but Gomersal held on to lift the cup.
Gomersal & Cleckheaton: Bainton, Hendry, Brampton, Inman, Carr, Howarth, Whitehead, Taylor, Saville, Bell, Peacey. Rolling subs: Barker, Tierney, Stedman.
Ossett Town Reds: Rogers, Wheeler, Lonsdale, Hutchinson, L Preston, Awad, White, Bashir, M Preston, Pashley, Sidat. Rolling subs: Ahmed, Hobson, Hall.
Referee: Umar Ahmed (Dewsbury).