Halifax Hammers claimed their third AMT Lawyers Football title in four years but they nearly lost it after AFC Preston nearly staged a monumental comeback.
The 2017 cup final was played at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium the home of Chester City Football Club.
At 5-1 with only 55 minutes gone the game seemed to be meandering towards another comfortable win for the 2016 champs. But AFC Preston who knocked out triple winners Coppice United (3-1) in the semi’s and Euro Garages (2-0) had other ideas.
In what can only be described as a crazy ten minutes they managed to claw themselves back into the final with three goals from Talha Patel, Mohammed Pepi and Hasan Yusuf.
An inspired AFC Preston were a different side from the team that went into the break 3-1.
Halifax had reached the final after overcoming a strong Bolton United (2-0) and FC Bolton (4-1). They began the stronger and went ahead through Lee Smith.
Hasan Yusuf replied for AFC Preston with a stunning strike from 30 yards. But from then on it was all Halifax as they piled on the pressure and created a number of great chances.
Smith celebrates the first (Pictures: Wilkinson Photography)
For sixty minutes of this match Halifax were in total control and it if wasn’t for veteran keeper Bilal Majoo they would have been out of sight at half-time.
Lamin Jannah grabbed a second and Terriq Pervez a third before the half-time whistle. Five minutes into the second half Smith made it four before Pervez rounded off another fantastic move by the Hammers.
It seemed Halifax would add to the tally but AFC hit back twice and then got a fourth – with 25 minutes still to go!
A back line, led by the talented Callum Charlton that had looked comfortable for much of the tournament was finding it difficult to hold off the AFC Preston onslaught.
Halifax captain Mohammed was stretchered-off after bravely coming out to block a shot inside the box forcing Hammers to make changes.
With the score at 5-4 AFC Preston looked the more dangerous but Halifax managed somehow to get their composure back.
With minutes to go Pepi was clean through and should have made it 5-5 but seemed to be caught in two minds when he only had to lift the ball over the advancing keeper.
It was a thrilling end to a cup final which looked to be going to form but was nearly turned on its head by AFC Preston.
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