Ashton Athletic triumphed last night in the biggest game in their history when they beat Radcliffe Borough in the Partners Foundation Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy Final by 2 goals to 1.
It was a truly fantastic occasion at Bolton Wanderers Macron Stadium for players, management, committee and the army of fans who turned up on the night to create a superb atmosphere for the team.
To put the achievement into context, former winners of this fantastic competition include Bury, Blackpool, Wigan Athletic, Rochdale and Accrington Stanley. It certainly was the biggest night in the clubs near 50 year history.
Radcliffe Borough from a league above certainly played their part in an excellent final and had some decent chances in the first half with the game going from end to end. Ashton largely being reduced to long range efforts. The teams mostly cancelled each other out in the first period and the score at the break remained 0-0.
Ashton's management duo on the night of Jay Foulds and Ben Kay agreed that the Yellows were not at their best in the first half and spelled this out to the team at half time. A mention should also go out to Dougie Pitts from the management trio who was gutted in not being able to attend the final but has of course played his part throughout the campaign.
The Yellows certainly got the message and came out flying in the second half, taking the game to Borough but there were chances at both ends. Ashton had a free kick effort from Danny Smith saved and another chance slipped away, as Callum Wilson almost latched onto a flick on from Joel Brownhill off a Sam Bailey corner.
Then Radcliffe took the lead near the hour mark as Jack Hindle pounced on a loose ball and fired home from close range.
Ashton could have been affected by the set back but showed the true character of the team, intensifying their play and continuing to press the Borough goal.
Danny Regan had a couple of close chances but the move of the night involved Marcus Cusani down the left who passed to Joel Brownhill who in turn set up Danny Smith to slot home from inside the six yard box. Ashton fans erupted and the momentum was now with the Yellows.
We continued to press and always looked likely to grab the winner before the dreaded penalties and so it proved. A slip by the Radcliffe centre backed on the edge of the box perfectly set up Lee Vaughan who smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
What a finish!
The players sprinted off into the corner in celebration as did the management, subs and staff with seemingly no-one left on the bench.
The last few minutes of the game seemed to take forever, certainly shredding the nerves, as Radcliffe threw everything at us but to no avail. The lads defended with every ounce of effort they had left and blocked every threat.
The final whistle blew and the celebrations both on and off the field began. A truly amazing occasion and unbelievable achievement for all concerned.
An emotional Chairman Jimmy Whyte said after the game. 'Oh my goodness we have only gone and done it. Ashton Athletic Lancashire Cup Winners 2017. A little club with a massive heart and incredible people on and off the field have made history tonight and I am the proudest chairman in semi pro football. Well done to everyone involved at the club. Come On You Yellows.'
Ashton Athletic sponsors were split as to who was the Man of the Match and the award was shared between captain Paul Watson and defender Callum Wilson. Both players having fantastic games and giving their all for the team, as did the whole squad.
Well Done everyone, we hope to see you all again at Brocstedes Park in the near future!
Updated 13:00 - 6 Apr 2017 by The Yellows