Two stunning extra-time goals gave Blackburn their first victory in the annual North West Championships in nine years.
Up against seven time finalists Coppice United of Oldham the game looked to be heading towards penalties until two of the youngest players on the pitch popped up to hand Blackburn a famous win.
The tournament sponsored by AMT Lawyers saw eight teams from across the region compete for the title at Victoria Park, the home of Nelson Football Club.
Blackburn FC reached the final after beating 2014 champions Halifax Hammers in the semi-finals (2-1). Earlier they had come from behind to overcome Pendle’s Paak United 4-1 in their first game.
Coppice United meanwhile looked in menacing mood as always beating Rochdale’s Asia FC in the first game 3-1 before overcoming surprise semi-finalists PLCC Nomads in the final four. It set up a clash between the two tightest defences in the tournament.
Despite not entering the competition last year Coppice remain a formidable outfit and have a habit of walking away with the cup even if they haven’t been at their level best.
Going into the tournament they were one of three favourites alongside holders Halifax Hammers and 2013 winners Bolton United.
The game was always going to be cagey for both sides. Coppice had conceded just one goal in their two games and Blackburn just two. So anyone expecting an attacking game was deeply disappointed.
Blackburn begun better but could only manage a handful of half –chances. Coppice meanwhile won their fair share of corners in the opening 30 minutes but failed to test the Blackburn keeper.
You had to wait until the second half until a clear chance for either side. From an in-swinging free-kick the ball fell into the path of Shakeel but his reflex shot was saved well by Naveed who was very quick off his line.
Both sides defended deep and the midfield battle was intriguing to watch with Mohammed and Yasser both driving their teams forward. Mohammed who was rested in the first game in the tournament was always at the centre of much of Blackburn’s possession play.
Into extra-time and it was going to take something special to unlock the defence and that came in the form of Amir Toowara who somehow wriggled his way out of two challenges and managed to find substitute Mohammed in the six yard box. The smart finish was enough to win any encounter.
Coppice pressed for an equaliser and as time out Dalal broke down the left again and got his foot to the ball to put finish off proceedings and hand Blackburn the Cup.
Over the three games Blackburn were the better side and showed their great team spirit by coming from behind in two of the three matches. It was a also a tournament won by a hard working defence and midfield more than anything else. In extra-time that burst of energy helped them lift the trophy after a season when they did not perform to their full potential.
Coppice still hold a magnificent record in this competition reaching seven of the last eight finals.
The Young player of the tournament award went to Junaid Dalal and the player of the tournament trophy on this occasion was shared between centre-backs Kalim Hafeji and Blazej Schmidt.
The tournaments stand out goal scorers were H Samuels (Coppice), A Ayub (PLCC Nomads) and M Nabeel (Blackburn FC).
A big thank you to Fayyaz Ahmed, Abdul Rauf, Mark Wilkinson and groundsmen Trevor from Nelson Football Club.