Promoted Bolton County miss out on league and cup double
BOLTON County narrowly missed out on adding the West Lancashire League Division Two title to the divisional cup.
The Darcy Lever men, already promoted in second place, needed to beat leaders Hurst Green at Radcliffe Road on Saturday to leapfrog them on the final day.
Denis Strickland’s 85th-minute equaliser sparked a frantic finish as County threw everyone, including the goalkeeper, forward at every opportunity.
But Hurst Green held out to lift the title in front of more than 100 spectators, County’s biggest crowd in years.
After going a goal behind on 20 minutes, County levelled 15 minutes later when Strickland drifted past his full-back and crossed for Paul Oldham to hammer home from close range.
The home side pressed in the second half but could not break down a resilient Green defence, and the visitors restored their lead against the run of play 15 minutes from time when County failed to clear before Strickland’s late leveller earned a share of the spoils.
Turton finished an encouraging season in sixth in Division One after a resounding 7-0 victory over BAC Preston.
It continues the Thomasson Fold club’s impressive progress since they were left with only a handful of players following relegation from the Premier League three seasons ago.
They have spent the last two years surviving relegation battles, but hard work on and off the field has been rewarded with their latest campaign which they hope will form the foundation for an assault on promotion next season.
Matty Ward gave Turton an early lead and Kieran Sisson made it two before half-time.
Dean Hailwood made it three before Sisson struck three times and Hailwood converted Craig Fairhurst’s cross to complete the scoring.
Eagley played their second team against Thornton Cleveleys in the Premier League, and Phil Roberts’ Reserve League champions earned a point with a goalless draw.
Paul Marriott made the decision due to his team having the Premier Division Cup final last night and Hospital Cup final tomorrow night.
“It would have been impossible to play three games in five days,” he said. “So we played the reserves and they did really well.
“It didn’t affect any other team so there’s no harm done and the reserve players showed they can compete at the top level which is good to know.”
Eagley and Tempest United will contest the 83rd Hospital Cup final tomorrow night at the Reebok Stadium, kick off 7.45pm.
Admission is £4 for adults and £2 concessions and proceeds will go to Bolton Steps who provide support for people experiencing mental health problems.
Plans are being discussed to find a permanent place for the trophy, possibly at the Bolton Museum, to put it on permanent display and inform people of the competition’s significant place in local football history.