Fleetwood Town gave a superb performance but were beaten on penalties 5-4 after a thrilling 1-1 draw with Liverpool in the Lancashire Senior Cup Final on Friday night.
George Johnston’s goal with 20 minutes remaining looked to have been the winner, but Jack Sowerby’s stunning strike three minutes from time send the game to penalties. Johnston was then the man who struck the winning spot kick past Chris Neal, with Michael Donohue the unlucky man to miss his kick for Fleetwood.
Head coach Murray named a strong side including an attacking front three of Gerard Garner, Ashley Nadesan and Donohue.
Liverpool started the better, with the lively Harry Wilson forcing Neal into a smart save after just two minutes. The following corner was cleared by former red Joe Maguire.
Town went down the opposite end with Nadesan forcing Liverpool stopper Caoimhin Kelleher into a simple save. The former Horley Town attacker always carried a threat in the opening stanza.
Soon after Wilson found space again, but his scooped effort was comfortably past Neal’s right-hand post.
Former Everton attacker Donohue was next to test Kelleher, and following a neat exchange of passes from Garner, he struck a solid effort on target. Well saved in the end.
Midway through the half captain for the night Jack Sowerby struck a stunning effort from the edge of the area, but his strike whistled past the post.
Then – with three minutes left on the clock – came the best chance of the half. The excellent Harrison Biggins collected Victor Nirennold’s through ball but his low effort from eight yards just went past the post. All square at the break.
Both sides exchanged chances at the start of the second half, with Yan Danda shooting straight at Neal inside the opening 30 seconds of the half.
The Cod Army went straight down the other end and when Garner’s shot was blocked, Nadesan slipped at the vital moment when given the chance to prod home.
Ings looked livelier in the second period – and stung the palms of Neal twice before the hour mark – with Town’s experienced stopper more than up to the task on both occasions.
Then came a key moment of the match. Liverpool substitute Bobby Adekanye beat his man to the byline and cut it back to Johnston who fired low into the back of net. Neal left with no chance.
But Town rallied and got what they deserved and in some style. Skipper Sowerby fired past Kelleher from all of 25 yards to ensure the game went straight to penalties.
Biggins, Sowerby, Nadesan and Maguire all scored in the shootout, but it was to be Liverpool’s night with Johnston scoring the winning penalty.
Fleetwood: Neal; Holgate, Sheron, Baines; Nirennold, Biggins, Sowerby, Maguire; Garner, Nadesan, Donohue. Subs: Clayton, Bishop, Unsworth, Djabi, Trailist.
Liverpool: Kelleher; Whelan, Parker, Masterson, Johnston; Coyle, Ejaria, Alves; Danda, Ings, Wilson. Subs: Virtue, Firth, Adekanye, Phillips.