A thrilling penalty shoot-out victory handed Oldham’s Coppice United the North West Championship over underdogs Bolton United.
Cup final hero Christopher Johnson who had also saved a kick in normal time proved to be Bolton United’s nemesis after pulling off a string of crucial saves. The tournament was played at the Blackburn Rovers Youth Academy over the bank holiday weekend.
It was the first time in the tournament’s 10 year history that the final would go to penalties.
If you were coming to watch Coppice expect a bagful of goals! This was a free-scoring Coppice United who had smashed in 13 in two rampant days.
But in the final despite the addition of 2010 hat-trick hero Nathan Eastmond they looked a little off the pace. This was due to some good tight marking by a well-drilled Bolton United team. We all knew Bolton could attack but they showed here what a tough side they are to break down.
Bolton United who had reached the final by dumping out holders Canaries 3-1 looked the more threatening for large periods of the game. They had the more clear cut chances but poor finishing would come back to haunt them.
It was Coppice though who had the best opportunity to go ahead in the opening minutes but Eastwood lashed over the bar.
When United’s frontman Nadir was brought down in the box on the stroke of half-time it looked like they would go in one ahead.
But the resulting penalty by Safwaan Patel although a little tame was well second guessed by keeper Johnson.
The Coppice defence marshalled well by captain Rashid at the helm had not been properly tested up and until this point.
The midfield battle between Patel and Ali Enwar and Yassar and Medhi was fascinating to watch.
Ali like Yassar was almost everywhere. Yasser was subbed due to fatigue. Ali just kept going.
Coppice continued to probe and their best chances coming from Curley and Barrow.
The game was brought to life again by United who squandered three more chances to win the cup. Each time Johnson came to Coppice’s rescue. Coppice have now reached the final now four times in a row and seemed to have the mental edge on their opponents.
There was new found belief in the side in extra-time and if anyone was going to score it was going to be Coppice.
They nearly took advantage of a mix-up in the United defence but Bolton somehow managed to clear it off the line.
In the end only a penalty shoot-out could separate the two sides.
First blood went to Bolton but they failed to capitalize on the next kick when Johnson saved.
It went down to the final penalty and it was only fitting that Curley should step up and take the pressure. He calmly converted to set-off the celebrations.
Bolton could count themselves unlucky but this Coppice side like those before it seemed to have come prepared, organised and with a belief that nothing was going to stop them from claiming that silver trophy.
MAN OF THE MATCH: CHRIS JOHNSON